Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Comics Are Gay

Reaffirming that comic book publishers have long abandoned any effort to appeal to families or kids, DC and Marvel Comics are now competing for the honor of being the most gay-friendly publisher.  Dan Didio announced Sunday that DC Comics will be changing the sexual orientation of an established character.  DC's senior VP of Publicity Courtney Simmons confirmed the story yesterday, "One of the major iconic DC characters will reveal that he is gay in a storyline in June."  So apparently it will be a male character to go along with their openly lesbian hero, Batwoman.  Not to be outdone, Marvel announced today that Northstar, who came out back in 1992, will marry his partner in Astonishing X-Men #51.

Well, I guess I'm supposed to be impressed by this cynical effort to get some cheap publicity, following on the heels of President Obama's "evolution" in support of gay marriage.  But I'd be far more impressed if these publishers put as much energy into the creativity and quality of their books as they do with trying to be cool or superficially relevant.  I wasn't aware the public was clamoring for more gay superheroes, so I'm glad Marvel and DC are taking steps to better represent that 1.4% of Americans who identify as gay and are no doubt as concerned about this issue as they are the economy, unemployment and the war in Afghanistan.

Despite its pretentiousness, this announcement does serve a somewhat useful purpose, which is to confirm once again just how Liberal the comics industry has become.  The last few years have seen repeated efforts to push characters and stories in an increasingly progressive direction, one more consistent with their worldview.  From the industry's worship of Barack Obama to taking shots at the Tea Party, from Superman renouncing his citizenship to filmmakers bending over backwards to avoid any patriotic overtures in the Captain America movie, many creators seem more interested in producing comics for each other and their circles of Liberal friends.

Does this matter?  Probably not.  I gave up on comics years ago, although DC piqued my interest in the last few years, particularly with it's relaunch, which turned out to be giant dud.  The problem for the industry is people like me who loved superhero comics growing up, will not encourage our kids to take up the hobby.  Who wants to expose their children to the dark, politicized, hyper-sexualized and exclusively adult nature of comics today.  Not even the most wholesome heroes are exempt.  Yes, I remember The Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, but that stuff was the exception, not the rule, as it is today.  With so many better options for entertainment, even superhero entertainment (Avengers cartoon?), why bother with comics?

Well, I guess the only thing left to do is speculate on which character will soon be dressing snazzier.  It's not clear how major of a character it will be.  Despite the hype, DC will probably anger some in the LGBT community by announcing some wallflower like the Atom or the Blue Beetle.  I know many people will automatically guess Aquaman, but he is married (to a woman) and bears little resemblance to the character we knew from Superfriends.  Some will say Robin, but that would open up too many questions about Batman, who is DC's hottest brand.  If it's not someone like Plastic Man (no jokes), then I'm gonna guess ...Green Arrow.  He's not one of the big five, nor is he an unknown.


Anonymous said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Batwoman is a lesbian? I probably ought to check that out so I can know just how bad comics have gotten.

I voted "Other" as all DC Comics characters are gay. I was torn between that and Green Arrow. C'mon, the guy's name is Oliver Queen.

I've decided that for my kids I'll just go back and pick up the good story arcs in trade paperback format. Then they can read them and enjoy some really great stuff but not have to worry about any collector value if they treat it like they treat everything else, and I won't have to worry about them being indoctrinated with a bunch of trash.

I've been convinced that comics went into the shitter when the publishers decided that their business model no longer focused on kids picking up one or two comics a month at a grocery store or comic shop and instead making their target demographic adult men who buy a couple hundred dollars worth of comics a month.


Anonymous said...

You know who you forgot to list in your poll of who will turn gay?

Ready for it?

I'll bet you are.

Martian Manhunter.

It sells itself, really.


The League said...

The thing is... it does feel calculated and cynical. What's oddest is that its exploiting the fact that the public still regards comics as kids' stuff to try to get some attention and a reaction, and all on the heels of Archie Comics' much more successful Kevin Keller introduction.

In some ways its bizarre simply because there have been gay characters in comics for over a decade even in mainstream books. That the mainstream media would latch onto this story (with lots of leading headlines about Batman or Superman's orientation) turns comics into that much more of an all-hype circus and, as you say, shows you they can't turn in good stories, so they're counting on hucksterism.

I realized I was moving far, far away from DC and Marvel when I just sort of let the headlines wash over me without caring anymore.

Is it too much to ask for a decent Donald Duck comic on the stands these days?

Jake Shore said...

Ryan, I think you're right on when you talk about the publishers exploiting the public's antiquated view of comics for the sake of publicity.

Having said that. I think stuff like this can be a healthy reality check for the industry. I think it demonstrates just how out of touch the comics are today with a general audience and goes a long way (maybe) to explain the ongoing slide in sales.

For those of us who are immersed in comics, I think it's useful for a layman to come along say, "What the $%@# is up with that?!" and jolt a little perspective.

Wouldn't it do the publishers some good to listen to people outside of fanboy circles about what they like about superheroes?