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A happy green glow

Timothy Kincaid

June 1st, 2012

In 1992, Marvel Comics outed the first mainstream gay comic book character, Northstar. To which I promptly though, who? I never was much of a comic book geek, but I know most of the major characters – okay, the really major ones anyway – and I had never heard of Northstar. Nevertheless this announcement deservedly got a lot of attention.

But it didn’t exactly rock the world.

When Archie Comics, that paean to middle-America and it’s values, had a same-sex marriage last December, fearful heterosexuals (including all half dozen of the Million Moms) were shocked. Shocked, I tell ya! But Kevin Keller was a new character reflecting a new reality.

Ah, but today the comic book community caught the nation’s attention. Today’s outing is a bit too big to miss: the Green Lantern is gay.

Coming in at Number 4 on ComicBookResourse’s listing, the Green Lantern is among the biggies, one of the superheros that everyone knows. Last year’s movie staring Ryan Reynolds pulled in boxoffice in excess of $200 million. This is no Northstreet, um Northbank, umm Northwhatever, this is a major figure in the world that is imagined in basements and treehouses across the nation, distinctly recognizable in the endless parade of “what are you exactly?” that knocks on your door on October 31st.

Unlike Superman, there are actually more than one Green Lantern. It’s more of a job title that various humans are assigned across the 70 years that Green Lantern has fought for justice in brightest day or darkest night. In the August 2012 issue of Earth 2, DC Comics is reintroducing their first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, along with what appears to be his boyfriend Sam (who may be Japanese).

No doubt Fox Commentators will be offended. And all the Million Moms will be apoplectic. And anti-gays will accuse DC Comics of trying to brainwash their impressionable children with perverse values.

But comic books don’t teach values; they reflect where society is at any given point. And that place is getting better every day.

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Regan DuCasse
June 1st, 2012 | LINK

There was that story about Kyle, a young office intern who was the victim of a gay bashing after thugs saw him kiss his boyfriend.
The Green Lantern, caught the criminals, and made them hallucinate a taste of their own medicine. Leaving them babbling, drooling and utterly helpless to harm anyone else again.

Kyle was left in a coma, and permanently damaged. I lost track of the storyline after that and my comic book buying budget got kind of tight.

But this outing didn’t surprise me, actually or any of us that know the different personas that the Green Lantern has taken on.

I just love the character, no matter what.

Lucrece
June 1st, 2012 | LINK

The Alan Scott Green Lantern character predates and is actually not the same as the mainstream Green Lantern character Ryan Reynolds plays. It’s a different comic universe.

Hopefully the Alan Scott version will get its fair share of attention now since he was the original Green Lantern.

Andrew
June 1st, 2012 | LINK

The Green Lantern is no “biggie”. It’s one of the lamest of the lame, and it’s worth noting that the one attempt to spin this franchise into a film may have done well at the box office, but it was universally panned — don’t expect a sequel.

This is yet another sop to the gay crowd… it has the greasy feel of pandering. I’m not sure whether I’d prefer that we don’t get our “quota” of retro-homo’ed characters, or whether I’d prefer that if we did, it wouldn’t be subordinate 3rd tier throw-away characters.

I think my frank preference would be to see, as time and life moves forward, superheroes who just happen to be gay.

Reading a book right now by Sci Fi / Fantasy superstar author Richard K. Morgan (Steel Remains) where the swashbuckling sword wielding lug of a hero just happens to have a soft spot for stable boys and butch tavern owners. Well, maybe not so soft – Morgan delights in giving his character as full a description of sex as you get for hetero characters in any other fantasy genre. Shortly before (and after) our hero engages in sword battles that result in missing limbs or internal organs for the bad guys, of course.

I don’t need to be pandered to, just respected enough to be included.

Hyhybt
June 1st, 2012 | LINK

“I think my frank preference would be to see, as time and life moves forward, superheroes who just happen to be gay.”—Really, from the little there is to tell from the preview, it seems like that’s exactly what this is.

Ben In Oakland
June 1st, 2012 | LINK

Green lantern was my favorite character when I was a kid, and he wasn’t much older than me– at least Chronologically.

And though I though the movie last year was not all that good, Ryan Reynolds fulfills my visions of Green lantern as a child. All I can say is, “I’d do him.”

But I’ll have to ask my husband first.

Brian Pengelly
June 1st, 2012 | LINK

I don’t think this is just a sop to the gay crowd. The writer James Robinson has a long history of writing gay characters. The character previously had a gay son (Obsidian is one of the first DC heroes I remember coming out) but after it all got retconned Alan Scott is not old enough to have a son, so the writer decided to make him gay instead. I think this was a fair choice in the reboot and not just a sop. I think DC’s media hype pretending it was a huge character was disengenuous.

Nathaniel
June 1st, 2012 | LINK

“God, I’ve missed you…”

I’d love for some of the rightwing Christians to go berserk for this comment! :)

Gene in L.A.
June 1st, 2012 | LINK

Frankly I don’t care whether the “rightwing Christians” go berserk or not. This isn’t for them. If they don’t like it they can lump it.

Andrew
June 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Hyhybt, no this is a pre-existing character recycled to pander to the zeitgeist. Not only that, there’s a bunch of him, apparently, so he’s not the “real” GL. Yep, we got a spare character.

Ben – I’ve already told my hubby that yes, I would leave him for Ryan Reynolds. He responded that, in fact, I’d better bring him along.

Brian – I think you may have a point in that I may be reacting to the comic book houses expecting some kind of credit when they do this. It feels like a throw-away stunt.

Hunter
June 2nd, 2012 | LINK

It’s hardly a “sop to the gay crowd” — it’s DC playing catch-up. Marvel has a number of gay characters, some of whom has been around since the early ’90s.

And, given that popular culture reflects attitudes, I’d say it’s DC finally recognizing that we’re everywhere. If they want to cash in — well, publishing is a business, whether you’re publishing romance novels or comics. Whether you consider Green Lantern a “biggie” or not, it’s an attempt worth encouraging. I’m going to have to add Earth 2 to X-Factor, Young Avengers, and Astonishing X-Men on my “keep up with this” list.

Hunter
June 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Another thought, re “pandering” — if you want to see pandering in the comics industry, look at Japan: manga is hugely fan-driven. Artists will even develop story lines and characters based on fan input, especially in boys’ love manga.

(And it occurs to me that if the perennially clueless OMM ever get wind of that genre, their knickers will get so twisted that they won’t have any circulation below the waist.)

Steve
June 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Well, it’s not exactly new for DC. Just having a gay *male* main character. In other series Kate Kane/Batwoman, Maggie Sawyer and Rene Montoya/The Question are lesbians and there are some other minor LGTB characters here and there. Batwoman has her own series now – though it focuses way too much on the supernatural for my taste.

“Gotham Central” has a great four-parter called ‘Half a Life’ in which Montoya is outed and has to deal with her friends and family afterwards. It won multiple awards.

Ian
June 2nd, 2012 | LINK

More chinese than japanese… afterall, they live in hong kong.

Reed
June 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Meanwhile, Thom Creed of “Hero” languishes in Stan Lee’s development limbo . . .

Neon Genesis
June 2nd, 2012 | LINK

“It’s hardly a “sop to the gay crowd” — it’s DC playing catch-up. Marvel has a number of gay characters, some of whom has been around since the early ’90s.”

Of course Japanese comics have been including LGBT characters even longer than that and there’s even entire genres of Japanese comics devoted exclusively to gay and lesbian romance stories. Having said that, I think this would only count as a sop if DC merely made this announcement and then did nothing with the character’s sexuality in a storyline at all, a la JK Rowling. If in a few months DC does absolutely nothing with the Green Lantern’s sexuality in a comic book, we’ll know then that it was just a marketing plot. Having said that, I’m glad it’s the Green Lantern they revealed to be gay and not someone the mainstream public wouldn’t know a thing about, like Plastic Man.

Neon Genesis
June 2nd, 2012 | LINK

Typo, that should be marketing ploy.

Timothy Kincaid
June 3rd, 2012 | LINK

The backstory:

The DC universe just went through a restructuring. As I understand it, it’s a bit of a do-over, in which their heroes’ story lines go back to the beginning but set in today’s time instead of the 40s. (apologies to comic geeks if I got that wrong).

Part of going back in the Green Lantern story makes Alan Scott too young to have a superhero son, so Obsidian had to be cut. And as Obsidian was gay, that left them without a gay superhero at a time in which they are trying to be more diverse.

Someone at some tradeshow panel suggested making Alan Scott/Green Lantern gay instead, and the idea stuck.

We want inclusion. When we get it, it could be seen as a sop or a token. I prefer to see it as inclusion.

Timothy Kincaid
June 3rd, 2012 | LINK

Ian,

I wondered if someone would notice that I specified Japanese. I’m going by his eyes, which look Japanese to me. He just doesn’t look Chinese – thou in profile I can see a bit of Korean.

Yeah – I’m totally basing it on “what he looks like”. But I suppose that’s ok in a comic book.

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