As I’m sure you know, DC announced this week that a “major iconic character” will reveal that he’s gay in a storyline starting in June. I’m sure you also know that Marvel superhero Northstar will be marrying his boyfriend Kyle as well. I’m all for equal representation in comics but stuff like this seems like it’s done in the spirit of capitalism and constant one-upmanship between the Big Two, not in the best interests of the characters or readers or for equality’s sake.
Now I have no idea who the new gay DC hero will be. Hell, we might get a genre-defining run on the character from whoever happens to be working on the book. But I refuse to applaud DC for some sort of commitment to equality. This move reeks of hetero-sexism. Rather than establish a strong new character and building a new icon, DC is instead giving the gay community some commodity that the straight community has already enjoyed. The fact that so many rumors are flying around about the hero in question being Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth-2, only potentially adds insult to injury! Many readers view the heroes of DC’s and Marvel’s primary universes to be the “real” heroes. Can a gay Green Lantern only exist in an alternate reality? If DC makes a prominent character in an alternate universe gay, aren’t they really just contributing to further marginalization of a group of people that already struggles with being told that their thoughts and feelings aren’t real or legitimate?
Even if Gay Hero X isn’t from an alternate universe, I have an ax to grind.
We can assume from DC’s Senior VP of Publicity Courtney Simmons’ comments to ABC News that this new hero will be male. DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio also said that this character will be one of their “most identifiable.” Well if they happen to appear in the DCU proper, won’t their presence undermine the existence of previously established, original, gay characters like Batwoman? In a perfect world, it won’t. Despite some shuffling on the art side, the Batwoman creative team has been remained dedicated to telling compelling stories that don’t use Kate Kane’s sexual orientation as a gimmick. According to ICv2, Batwoman sold over forty-five thousand copies, good for #32 on the Top 300 list. That’s better than critical darlings Animal Man and Swamp Thing. But is Batwoman somehow not gay enough because she’s a woman? Do we need a prominent male gay character because having a strong woman as a marquee gay character threatens the masculinity of the comic book industry boys club? I’m sure Apollo, Midnighter, Bunker, et al. are fine with it.
What’s sad is how transparent the timing of this move is. Marvel just released Astonishing X-Men #50 in which Northstar proposes to his boyfriend Kyle. Clearly, DC had to do something to get themselves into the news cycle. I’m not totally naive. Making comics takes a lot of planning (usually). This decision was made in advance (or at least we can only hope it was). But the timing of the announcement cheapens what it’s supposed to represent. Instead of being step forward for diversity in comics, it’s another reminder that this business has no shame and will use anything and anyone to prop up that bottom line.