Wednesday, October 05, 2022

The Heck With That

Individually, each choice--Jackson Hyde, Jon Kent, Tim Drake--makes some sense.  DC deserved some higher profile gay characters, particularly some younger ones for kids to have as role models of confidence.  Really, it's part of a larger issue we may discuss another time (DC not knowing what to do with "younger heroes", now that the days of "kid sidekicks" running around with their mentors on rooftops are over).

Jackson Hyde was introduced as and to be a gay character, but his real hook is that he's Aquaman's heir apparent despite being the son of his nemesis, Black Manta.  The character he was based on (Kaldur'ahm) wasn't gay; he had a crush on Aquagirl/Tula. That's why in later seasons of Young Justice, when they adjusted Kaldur'ahm to better align with Jackson by giving him a boyfriend, they made Kal bisexual so as not to create an apparent conflict with his original portrayal.  

"So; 'Thriller Moth'. Is that just your screen name or your actual superhero name? You... are a hero, right? I mean... you're not just...wearing that for no reason, right?"

Jackson's introduction certainly could have been "cleaner".  It's kind of amazing that even when DC has complete control and all the properties are theirs, they always seem to be trying to reconcile and merge similar characters or various versions of the same character.  Such is the process of mythic syncretism, whether it's in Greece 2500 years ago or in the DCU right now.  

Jon Kent was a known character before this reveal, but, since he was a child, sexuality was not at issue.  it was dealt with pretty much as soon as he was aged-up (and pretty tastefully, I thought).  Is his relationship with his boyfriend developed too fast and too corny? Absolutely. But, you know modern writers hate decompression and thus modern comics move so FAST! It's not like we're going to get 40+ years of will-they-or-won't-they courtship.

How absurd and tedious would THAT be?

Jon Kent's sexuality is, honestly, the only normal thing about him, because his backstory is NONSENSE. He went immediately from non-existence to 10-year-old cuteness and then just as immediately to 17-year-old sexy earnestness.  I mean, even on SOAP OPERAS you get a few scenes as a baby or a toddler first.  Fans of Moppet Jon have been understandably upset that that character basically got overwritten overnight. Well, I still don't understand when, how, or why Clark and Lois got married (let alone had a 10-year-old), so welcome to my world.

I mean, Lois is, objectively, a terrible person, you know.

I think much of the resentment against "bisexual (young) Superman" is really about "you stole our adorable super-tot from us and turned him into sexy agit-prop for headlines' sake!" No one wants to think of Their Innocent Little Child growing up into a sexual being, but usually they have TIME to get used to the idea.  DC did not give readers who thought of Jon Kent that way that kind of time.  Heck, I still I shake my head sadly at youthful ward Dick Grayson shacking up with that foreign girl in the metal bikini.  

Tim Drake?  My sissy-sense tells me that DC would have liked to have made Tim Drake gay, but thought it might be too inconsistent with his history; he had already had several girlfriends (especially Stephanie "Spoiler" Brown). Now, young men who've had girlfriends can certainly turn out to, in fact, be gay, but that's a bumpier reality than comics usually embraces. Besides, doing that would have seemed to undercut or invalidate Tim's relationship with Stephanie, and fans of Stephanie Brown--well, I guess DC figured they'd been pushed far enough over the years.  And so Bisexual Tim was born. 

Tim always seemed to have selfhood issues of some kind. What kind of Robin to be, what his motivations were, whether to become Batman, whether to insanely attempt to clone his dead friend, blah blah blah.  

He always seemed to be in the middle of some...
identity crisis.

I myself could never figure out how old he was supposed to be.  And, as previously discussed, it all got worse when his very literary raison d'ĂȘtre was undermined by the arrival of that Elseworlds invasive weed, Damian Wayne.  

DC's been looking for SOMETHING to do with Tim. And with Jon. And to a lesser degree, Jackson. So they now they are serving a broader purpose: to bring some "representation" to DC's headliner dynasties.  And it's working. Face it; Bunker (who has been around for ELEVEN YEARS) never made headlines like these three have.  

I'll give you a MILLION DOLLARS if you know Bunker's real name without looking it up.
Didn't think so.

It does seem like "a lot at once" to some people and it's rattling their little worlds.  For a while I was sympathetic. Perhaps it is a bit too much, too fast, too forced. But after looking at some actual timelines and at some very unpleasant chat sites, I finally decided:

the heck with that.

First of all, we underestimate how fast changes in comics used to come. FAST. When the original Robin, the Sensational Character Find of 1940, was introduced, it not only completely changed Batman overnight, it changed COMICS; within a year, they were LOUSY with sidekicks.  You couldn't cross a rooftop without knocking one over.

What kind of archer says "Great Guns!"?
You're an idiot, Ollie.

Well, Jon Kent came out as bisexual (not even just 'gay') a YEAR ago, Tim Drake did so OVER a year ago (August 2021), and Jackson Hyde was introduced SIX years ago. 

You may not love the idea, but your time window for 'shock' has expired and your denial doesn't make it less true.  This evolution of these characters is 10,000 times more believable and in character than THEIR VERY EXISTENCE (the teenager who deduced Batman's identity and becomes Robin just because someone should, the son of a supervillain who becomes his nemesis's apprentice, and the 17-year-old son of a couple who can't be a day over 35 and were NOT teen parents), so LUMP IT.  

Next, I thought about the substance of the problem. The reason I decided to stop having sympathy for all the people bitching about "teh ghey" invading their private comic book pantheon was the sudden realization:  

if that's the reaction they have to a FICTIONAL CHARACTER they imagined to have been straight turning out to be something-other-than-straight, how would/will they react if the same thing happens with their OWN CHILD?  

People bitching that 'every character is gay now' is tedious over-reaction. Sure, there's going to be a period where you see more such characters being introduced just to catch up from having had few before (just as was the case at one point with black characters).  I get it, people; things are changing faster than you can handle. But the harsh reality is: for a lot of you that will ALWAYS BE THE CASE.  There is little reason to slow down the train for you, since you are determined to fall off if it moves at all.

He's not going to save you.

But you can stop saying dumb things like "all/ most / half of  DC's characters are gay nowadays"; you just sound stupid and I really don't want to have to sit down and DO THE STATISTICS, because that's a power I have and you don't want me to do that.  Even if you look across various media versions, it's not that many, certainly compared to the INSANE number of characters in the DCU.  

You're not mad because it's so MANY characters. You're mad because it's now characters that you can no longer ignore. You didn't really care when it was 'gay ghetto' characters like Bunker.

I like his idea much better, Tim; give him a call.
His name's "Miguel Barragan", by the way.

Is DC 'turning their characters gay' a shameless ploy to appeal to 'more liberal readers'? Maybe it is; good for DC!  Being shameless in trying to have appeal to as broad an audience as possible is not the worst survival strategy for any company, I should think.  

There's really only ONE comic that DESERVES to be called 'shameless'.

I guess black characters are shameless ploys, too. And hispanic ones, and females ones, and well, white and male ones, too since those appeal to lots of people. Let's hear it for shamelessness.  The people who labeled "pride" as one of the seven deadly sins are people who wanted to use shame as a weapon against others.

A rationale level of pride in lieu of shame, in fact, is quite emotionally healthy.

DC's motivations are irrelevant.  These characters are now what and who they are.  If I let people piss on them for that, I'm setting the stage for them to do that to REAL PEOPLE; their own children, the children of others.  That would be truly shameless.


Dave said...

I think you mention something about Jon Kent that gets generally ignored: that, other than his being bisexual, he has no real characteristics. He's the dullest character imaginable. DC's endless implications that he's a better Superman than his father -- despite the lack of any evidence -- ring hollow.

At least Tim has been around long enough to have some individual traits, but (as you say) the breathless rush to give the Kents a child and then age him (seemingly overnight) in that terrible "let's bring Jor-El back, but make him a real asshole" arc speaks more about the agenda to provide a wider variety of characters than the usual lineup of cis/straight/white guys than any kind of plan to create and develop a character.

Jon is a great example of the recent creative bankruptcy of the Superman line. Johnson's endless Warworld saga was long and pointless enough to make "The Trial of the Flash" look like a Bazooka Joe comic, and the character has never really recovered from the Bendis run (which had some good things, but even more that will require years of rejiggering to correct.)

Anonymous said...

I'm looking at Jo Mullein in that last image, and I am struck by how her outfit looks so damn good. I think it does anyway, I suppose it's personal taste. But I am contemplating how adaptable the basic GL costume is, and the only other costume that comes close is the Mar-Vell costume. And here's what they have in common:

- Two basically dark colors that look good together

- One highlight color

- an insignia made out of the highlight color, front and center

- lines that are not simple "unitard in one color, underpants / gloves / boots in the other color"

I am not saying that this is the model all costumes should follow, but you know, it probably makes for a pretty good starting place if you're stuck.

CobraMisfit said...

Tim is awesome, whether or not he's "out". Outing him allows for an amazing role model, so kudos to DC on that front.

Then again, he dated Stephanie Brown, so....

That said, where DC dropped the ball is with Damian. A character that's angry and "broken" could have undergone this level of transformation and thrived because of it. On a different Earth, Tim "outs" Damian who has been emotionally festering because he's refused to be himself. It can be for any reason, be it he was unsure, he felt Bruce wouldn't approve, etc, but then you have a character that can grow and change organically. The hard edges begin to fade and he evolves into a stronger, more confident sidekick who becomes worthy to embody the mask of Robin. Not because of his parentage, but because, like other Robins, he overcame his own inner adversity and is stronger for it.

Again, I don't dislike Tim now, but tweaking an already excellent character when you have "broken" ones that remain broken feels like a missed opprotunity in storytelling and worldbuilding.

Scipio said...

""The Trial of the Flash" look like a Bazooka Joe comic,"

It already DOES look like one.
Oh; oh you mean the LENGTH. Gotcha.

Scipio said...


I assume you mean Tim was a RoleModel of PATIENCE for dating Stephanie Brown? She was HIGH MAINTENANCE!

CobraMisfit said...

What I mean was he is a great role model, except he dated an obvious mess.

But yeah, you're interpretation works just as well!

Bryan L said...

Lois roofied Clark?

The Golden Age. A time of innocence and wonder.

Gay sidekicks, eh. As you point out, I don't actually care about Jon, and the other two work just fine. There's not any real contradictions there that I've seen. Wake me up when Alan Scott finally convinces Ted Grant and Charles McNider to come out.

Scipio said...

"when Alan Scott finally convinces Ted Grant and Charles McNider to come out."


Anonymous said...

"I still don't understand when, how, or why Clark and Lois got married (let alone had a 10-year-old), so welcome to my world"
Is this true? Okay, simply a 1996 comic "The Wedding Album" that even coincided with the wedding on the TV show "Lois & Clark". It stayed canon all the way until New52. Then it gets a little complicated since this Pre-new52 versions of "Superman and Lois" somehow migrated to New52 Earth and secretly coexisted and took their places in "Rebirth" after the New52 ones died. So they had years to raise baby Jon there. Then Mr. Mxyzptlk fused both versions and personal timelines into one, partway into "Rebirth", which as usual for DC, both simplifies and complicates things.

Scipio said...

"both simplifies and complicates things."
Bottom line: we didn't see them have and raise a child.
And they are too young to have a child of ten (let alone one of 17), unless they met not that long after college and got married not that long after that. Which is really not consistent with their career histories.
ALL they had to do was say:
"Hey, we adopted a son!" to explain why they suddenly have a kid. It would have been a great parallel. Ma & Pa adopted Clark but pretended he was their birth-child. Lois and Clark had a birth child but would pretend they had adopted him to cover up the age issue. THAT"S al they had to dol. But no.

Anonymous said...

I think it would have been fine or even better if Mxy hadn't merged the timelines. Because then Pre-new52 Lois and Clark were certainly old enough. Dad-Beard was convincing enough. I didn't mind that it was off screen, since the "Superman and Lois" miniseries established they were undercover for a long time. And it sure felt like decades since I'd last seen them.

Do you agree with any of that?

Redforce said...

"To Heck With That."?
I can't believe the biggest Vibe fan on Earth-Prime missed a golden (red, golden, and green breakdancin') opportunity... Should have said...
"SQUASH that."

Scipio said...

I grovel in mortification!