I’ve been a comic fan for quite some time, and for the past two years+ years, I’ve held a secret identity of a Batman blogger. The medium is nowhere near as big as it was in say, the 90s, where sales were inflated due to everyone believing their super rare variant cover would be worth millions of dollars one day, but regardless of sales, a lot of great stories have been, and are currently being told within big super hero publishers like DC and Marvel, or creator owned publishers like Image. Although, I’ll be the first to admit, the medium sometimes struggles in areas such a diversity, especially within your standard super hero comics, where your usual A List heroes are a white guys club, with Wonder Woman thrown in time to time. But, to companies like DC Comics’ credit, they have been making strides (with the occasional step backwards) in the recent years in terms of using more female characters, characters of color, and LGBT characters. Tomorrow (June 6th) marks one of DC’s biggest steps forward with the release of James Robinson and Nicola Scott’s Earth 2 #2, where readers will be reintroduced to Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern (no, not the one in the movie) as a gay man, for the first time in over 70 years.
First, how about a little background? Last September, DC Comics relaunched their entire line of comics all starting at new #1 issues, in an initiative dubbed “The New 52.” This relaunch didn’t completely eradicate all past character history, with characters like Batman and related characters, kept a lot of their history. Much of the universe’s history was changed though, with characters becoming younger in a blink of an eye, some having past elements reset, and the fact that in DC comics time, super heroes had only been around for a few years. This left other predominantly older “Golden Age” characters with no place in the new universe, which included Alan Scott and many of his fellow Justice Society of America members. Prior to the relaunch, Alan Scott had been one of the original heroes of the universe that had inspired some of the current, younger generation of heroes; He was older, straight, and had two kids, Jade and Obsidian (who was gay), overall, pretty well established. But come the relaunch of the universe, Alan and the rest of the JSA were left without a home…
This is, until the “second wave” of titles hit just last month, including the parallel universe known as Earth 2. In this world, the story begins with an attack on humanity, very similar to the one seen in DC’s flagship title Justice League, but this time, characters like Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, end up sacrificing their lives to save the world. In their place, new, younger versions of DC’s Golden Age heroes would eventually take their place, including the newly gay Alan Scott. Let’s put this into perspective, Alan Scott has been around for nearly 72 years, a few shy of Batman, and through out that time he’s been rather well established, so to change something such as a character’s sexual orientation, is a pretty big shake up in some fan’s eyes. But, when you ask Earth 2 writer James Robinson, the change isn’t all that big of a deal, stating: “Alan’s sexuality is just one facet of him, along with his innate goodness, valor, charisma and skill at leadership that makes him the perfect man to wield the power of the green light in the world of Earth 2”
Of course, this change wasn’t met with universal praise… let’s just say some of the online comic community get a little bold when they’re behind their screens, posting on a message board. You had your “I’m never reading DC again!” comments, your jokes about Scott’s previous weakness to wood (it was the 40s, weird, I know) and your flat out bigoted nonsense. One of the biggest protestors of Alan Scott’s homosexuality, was the ultra conservative christian group One Million Moms, who spread our your typical “DC is ruining the children with the gay!” sort of nonsense. But, in an act of support, the more open minded members of the comic community flooded the One Million Moms Facebook page, commenting on their post about the issue, leaving messages of praise for DC. My favorite, along with pretty much everyone else’s was “In brightest day, in blackest night, no intolerance shall escape my sight. Let those who worship ignorance’s might, beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!” Okay, okay, wrong Green Lantern, but let’s not adjust our taped-up-in-the-middle thick rimmed glasses, and snort at the fact… what should really be taken note of is the fact that instead of going through and deleting all the pro homosexual comments, One Million Moms took down their Facebook page entirely, and it is still down, and so falls Alan Scott’s first nemesis as a gay man!
As mentioned before, it’s not as if Alan Scott is the first gay character to be introduced within the pages of DC’s New 52 initiative. Prior to the relaunch, you had Batwoman, who before becoming a vigilante, honoring the symbol of the Bat, was an army cadet, who left the service after refusing to comply with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and is currently starring in her own solo book. You’ve got Bunker in Teen Titans, a young gay teen from Mexico, who is proud of himself and who he is, wearing it like a badge of honor. There’s Apollo and Midnighter, one of DC’s earliest gay couples who were reintroduced into the main DCU last September. Batman writer Scott Snyder has promised a new gay character will soon be showing up in his book. Batgirl writer Gail Simone, one of comics’ biggest advocates of all things diversity, always seems to have something up her sleeve. Hell, even Earth 2 writer James Robinson has said there are more gay characters to come with in his book.
That being said, there are still a handful of gay characters who either haven’t been seen for a while, or were victims of not making it to the New 52. Renee Montoya, a former Gotham City Police member, who was outed by Two Face, but eventually learned to embrace who she was (also an ex-girlfriend of Kate Kane before she was Batwoman) hasn’t been seen for quite some time. Scandal Savage, a creation of the aforementioned Gail Simone, who used her sexuality to stand up to her father/big DCU bad guy, the immortal Scandal Savage, after her requested her to give him an heir, has not been seen since the cancellation of the brutally awesome (yet diverse) Secret Six. Progress has been made, but with the every now and then backtracking, said progress can be a little slow at times.
If there is one extra thing to praise DC and their writers for, in terms of their usage of gay characters, it’s the fact that nothing about them is sensationalized. Being gay is simply who these characters are, it’s a natural part of them, as it should be. With the hype that surrounded who would be DC’s new gay character, you’d expect the revelation would have come with the character standing on top of a mountain, ripping off his shirt and screaming “I’M GAAAAAAAY!” turn the page, and it’s just a large splash page of them frenching a character of the same sex. But no… all that happened was Alan gets off a plane, sees his boyfriend, and gives him a kiss. That’s the kind of stuff that needs to happened in order to take these kinds of subject seriously in the medium, and potentially change some readers’ minds with it being so naturally portrayed. A team of all gay heroes who look like they just came out of a flamboyant gay night club rave? Yeah, that probably wouldn’t work. Two men (or women) who simply love each other? No spectacle, nothing crazy like that? That’s what needs to happen, and continue to, going forward.
If you’re interested, Earth 2 #2, Alan Scott’s “coming out” issue will be available in local comic shops tomorrow, June 6th, and will be available digitally for computer, smartphone or tablet reading via Comixology around 2pm EST.