So by now you’ve probably have heard that Marvel’s Northstar is getting married and next month DC plans to out an “iconic” male character as gay in their revamped New 52 universe. A lot of people have been asking me about my take on both situations. Understandable, after all anyone who’s known me for five seconds knows that. Comic books + Denny = SIRIUS BIZNIZZ as such:
Nearly everyone and their grandmother has been asking my thoughts on both DC’s gay reveal and Marvel’s gay wedding and many have expected me to be excited about these events. My response to both:
Secondly, let’s keep it 100 here people. The primary reason Marvel and DC are even engaging in these cheap publicity stunts is to cash in on the success of Archie’s Kevin Keller: a character who is gay who has been well developed and treated with RESPECT. Make no mistake about it, this is a cheap publicity stunt right in time for Pride. It’s also a stunt we’ve seen before.
Both companies pulled this shit before back in the early 2000s along with the rest of society when they suddenly realized the obvious that gays had disposable income. Groundbreaking shows like Queer As Folk was on Showtime and was a major hit. During that time, Marvel touted how it was a brand new day at their company and they were going to strive to be more inclusive by featuring queer characters and giving some their own titles.
Unfortunately, what we got was the Rawhide Kid a walking queer minstrel show and Freedom Ring: an excellent character (Marvel’s answer to Kyle Rayner) who could’ve carried his own series but instead was the victim of one of the worst homophobic murders/gaybashings in comic book history.
Freedom Ring’s demise occurred exactly one month to the day after Doyle was being promoted as Marvel’s new gay superhero by Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada in interviews, as part of a brand new day of diversity at the House of Ideas. The story in which Freedom Ring was murdered had already been written and drawn when Quesada made the rounds in the media promo circuit.
Marvel certainly isn’t alone in the homophobic fail. DC has fucked up plenty themselves: Case in point allowing Bill Willingham, one of the most homophobic writers in the business, to use Obsidian as a gay punchline in one issue of JSA. Or Chuck Dixon’s homophobic treatment of Grace & Thunder and Midnighter. And WTF is up letting these homophobic bigots write gay characters? I suppose next they’re going to let David Duke pen the Black Panther. And let’s not forget the constant throwing of Renee Montoya under the bus, the walking joke that is Bunker, how Achilles was virtually retconned and portrayed as a genocidal madman in Outsiders, do I even need to continue?
Now to be fair, let’s give credit where credit is due, both companies have occassionally gotten it right over the years. DC gave us Batwoman for example. Marvel has given us Wiccan & Hulkling and Shatterstar and Rictor, Xavin, Daken and a few other characters. The difference however is that there wasn’t a tintilating media gimmick to boost sales and garner press, at least it wasn’t the primary intent. Rather the main goal was to to tell excellent stories with extraordinary characters who happened to be queer. I credit the writers, editors, and storytellers on those titles more than the companies themselves.
That’s why Kevin Keller has been a monumental success. The goal of Archie Comics wasn’t to garner publicity to sale more books but to be more inclusive and tell amazing adventures which featured a role model who happened to be a gay teen. And while intent isn’t magic, in cases like this, it does make all the difference.
But the main reason I’m not buying into the hype is that I see how Marvel and DC treats many of their current LGBTQ characters in their titles. Most of them are in marginal supporting roles at best and others………yeah I’m not holding my breath.
Anytime you treat a marginalization be it race, gender, orientation, etc. as a gimmick or a publicity stunt, disaster is imminent. So maybe I’ll be proven wrong and if so I’ll proudly stand corrected and will praise one or both companies.
However at this point:
6 thoughts on “Not Buying The Hype”
Blatant journal copy pasta:
The minute I heard that Northstar was getting married my reaction was:
“oh shit he’s alive again… how’re they going to kill him this time?”
I am actually worried that he’s back because their track record with horrendous gay rape/torture/death is so bad that I cringe that they now have ANOTHER opportunity to make him suffer. Think of the fun they could have brutally torturing his husband!
As for the rest – guys are walking in ARCHIE comic’s wake – and they want praise? Too little, too damn late. Maybe should have done this before all those gay rape-to-death stories
Maybe it’ll be something to get, well not excited about, but happy about if they can show a long term track record of not failing and putting their shit behind them – but that’s going to take time. And one wedding isn’t going to fix it
Oh and a main title GBLT character would be nice. Not side-kicks, minor team members, villains and also-rans
You tell it as it is, Dennis!
I haven’t read much Northstar except when he was in ALPHA FLIGHT and the references to his orientation were so oblique that I never caught them. I do agree that this was an attempt by both companies to create a Media Event, and that DC and Marvel, conservative companies to the bone, are doing nothing but running to catch up. LGBT characters became “cool” quite a while ago and they had a number of low-profile LGBT characters, but now that the movies are really big but haven’t boosted comic book sales as much as they’d hoped, they’re doing this. I haven’t been hugely impressed with the writing on either X-MEN or EARTH 2. (Spoiler here.) They kill off Alan Scott’s fiance, for one thing, and I’m so very, very tired of the “let’s kill the boyfriend” plotline that gay characters are burdened with. Alan’s emotional response to Sam’s death was . . . well, it was nearly non-existent. Sam may well have been a dog. The X-Men are doing a super-powered mystery as a frame around Northstar’s wedding, but it’s muddled and contrived. (And the guy who’s drawing the comic can’t do smiles–everyone looks like they have constipation.) I could forgive a publicity stunt if the writing were good, but iffy writing, to me, doesn’t deserve a national platform.
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