The Gold Standard: Gays In Comics, Top Five Moments, And A Weekly Roundup

Little fun fact to open up this week, but I didn’t even realize that there was a gay movement growing in comics. I mean, between Northstar getting engaged, and Alan Scott liking men, and there being an inter-racial gay military wedding in Archie, I didn’t realize that we were on the cusp of such a serious push.

 

I thought we already made it.

 

Northstar really is the poster boy for a homosexual man in comics. He was one of the first, he’s a strong masculine figure that was an athlete before he was a hero. He’s a brother, a friend, a teammate, and so many things…all of which without his sexuality. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always liked Jean-Paul, this was an openly gay fictional character that was treated absolutely no different than his straight counterparts and contemporaries.

 

In other words, for as long as I’ve been reading comics, he’s been 90% every gay man I’ve ever met. Just a good and honest individual that is so much more than their sexual preferance.

 

Maybe it’s just the media, actually, it really is just the media. It’s the old men standing in the back with their red pens deciding what should and shouldn’t be in the public eye. It’s public figures choosing to stay in the closet rather than risk judgement from everyone around them. It’s the fear that has been beaten into peoples minds over the years; the fear that they won’t be accepted for who they are. That a politician that is openly homosexual will see their career cut short, or that an athlete won’t be allowed in a locker room, or an actor would be typecast to only gay parts. It’s the reason tabloids love to play the ‘guess who’s gay’ game, because a lot of people do seem to try and hide it, and a lot of them sorta suck at it.

 

Younger kids might read this article and not really get where I’m coming from, but I imagine people in my age range (late 20’s) and older will. I remember when Willow and Tara kissing was a big deal on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and how they treated that relationship. It would have been so easy to have a pair of lipstick lesbians bringing the cheesecake, because really, you can see that seven nights a week if you’ve got premium channels. Instead we got a very mature relationship that provided a same-sex couple on a hit TV show that wasn’t built out of stereotypes. Something where, quite literally, only the most hardcore of hardcore people could take issue with it. It was so tastefully done that you would literally have had to hate gay people to not like their pairing (or you just REALLY loved Oz).

In other words, it wasn’t Glee. A show that I feel slaps viewers in the face and calls them intolerant, regardless of whether or not they are.

 

I see protestors with their signs and talking points about what God wants, and how these people are disobeying the problem…so what? America isn’t a Christian nation, and the planet is not a Christian planet. Church and state are separate entities, and there’s supposed to be a freedom to be yourself without fear of persecution for your beliefs. So why should people care that the hardcore religious fanatics think that God hates them? I might be somewhere between Jewish and Agnostic (I was raised Jewish but I’m about as far from religious as you can get these days), but I’ve never heard anything about God hating gay people from any religious leaders I’ve ever listened to. Really, I just hear a lot of love and respect everyone equally because we’re all people.

 

That’s kinda how I was raised, we’re all the same on the inside so just be cool to everyone. I remember hearing about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a kid and thinking it was the stupidest thing ever. I remember a “Very Special Episode of Blossom” where Blossom’s brother and his wife had a baby, and it was hot button because they were an interracial couple. I was maybe seven and I didn’t understand why that was a big deal. People had children. It could have been two dudes and I would have had the same reaction. How do I know this? Because I’ve never blinked an eye at the site of a gay couple; whether it be on TV, in a movie, in my comics, or even in real life. I have one rule, and really, it applies to everyone. If I’m not interested, don’t make a move on me. It could be a gay man or a straight woman, if I’m not interested I’m not interested, and the only way to offend me is to keep at it despite that.

 

So I got a tad off topic here, I’ll admit that, but there’s a point to all of this. These are people we are talking about, normal people. It shouldn’t be a big deal to start including them more in media because, honestly, people should just be ashamed it took them this long to drive home the point. Northstar has been out for as long as I’ve been reading comics. I remember when I got back into books in 2003 Kyle Rayner had a gay assistant, and Judd Winick tried to drive home how horrible some people could be with his Hate Crime story. His goal was obvious, to show people how awful intolerance can be, and to show that victims don’t come out demanding revenge.

 

Judd is commonly known as the guy who will make a character gay, or put in gay characters, or give someone some disease. Or at least message boards would have you believe that, personally, I think the man deserves a pat on the back for always keeping diversity at the forefront of his books. Whether it be gender, race, or sexuality. Judd Winick has always been pretty good about showing people as people and not as the stereotypes people broadcast over them. People might fuss that he always seems to follow the same pattern with books, but if the man is just doing what he knows, and he’s not stereotyping it, then why is that a problem? He wrote one of my favorite sad relationships ever in comics during Exiles.

You know what other writer deserves massive props? And who was almost omitted from this blog simply by nature of me ranting?  Marc Andreyko. He might not be a household name, but he wrote a criminally underrated book for DC Comics a few years back called Manhunter. In this book he went ahead and did the same thing DC had promised to do a few weeks ago, and take an established character and reveal them to be gay. His choice was Todd Rice, Obsidian, the son of Alan Scott. What he proceeded to do with the character in the short time the book had remaining was nothing short of exceptional. Todd was a real person, a superhero, a friend, a lover, everything. His sexuality was a part of his character, but it did not define him. If anything, it took a character out of obscurity and made them relevant (yes, he’d been a villain in JSA before it, but he was hardly viewed by anyone as a viable character to throw in a book, he was a background character at best). Hell, it’s one of the very few reasons I could have to oppose Alan being gay. Because it means Todd doesn’t exist anymore in this cannon, and he was really one of the benchmarks for how to handle a gay character in mainstream comics.

There should be more gay characters in comics, just like there should be more black characters in prominent roles, and just like Marvel needs more prominent women. At the same time, there should be more women involved in the talent pool, but that’s entirely dependent on women wanting jobs writing and drawing superhero comics.

 

And as for people who are throwing out claims about how such things have no place in comics that are ‘meant for kids’, all I really have to say is that fifty years ago you could replace gay with black and have their bitching and moaning almost verbatim. People are going to bitch, and they are always going to be extremists, and they are going to keep bitching. The point is to ask yourself what is really more important, representing other people with respect and equality, or cowering before protests groups made up of people who can find some way to insist that God hates people that are different from them.

 

Because, really, if there is a God? I seriously doubt he/she/it created people for the sole purpose of hating. If God created everything, and God hates gay people, they would God create gay people?

 

So I’m going to sit back and enjoy Marjorie Liu writing Northstar, James Robinson writing Alan Scott, Nick Spencer writing Jun in Morning Glories, and really, any other books I pick up that features gay and lesbian characters. This level of push is a long time coming, and VERY overdue.

What I read this week:

 

  • Animal Man Annual #1
  • Batman Annual #1
  • Ravagers #1
  • Smallville Season 11 #6
  • Amazing Spider-Man Annual #39
  • FF #18
  • New Mutants #43
  • X-Men Legacy #267
  • Angel & Faith #10
  • Ghostbusters #9
  • America’s Got Powers #2
  • Bloodstrike #28

 

Top Five Books of the Week:

 

5. X-Men Legacy #267

4. Smallville Season 11 #6

3. Angel & Faith #10

2. Ghostbusters #9

1. America’s Got Powers #2

 

What I Watched This Week:

 

  • Workaholics
  • Fairly Legal
  • Common Law
  • Young Justice
  • Game of Thrones
  • WWE Raw

 

The Worst Things I Saw On Shelves:

 

I figured Exiled would be enough to get me to start reading Journey into Mystery, but the entire thing just wound up being so….meh, that I don’t think I’m going to give it a shot. To be completely honest, despite my love of DNA, I might be bailing on New Mutants. It just hasn’t had a moment yet where everything really clicked for me. It’s unfortunate.

 

Fifth weeks are unfortunate when companies find ways to fill them with content but not necessarily good content. There were some standouts this week, but for the most part it wasn’t Marvel and DC.

 

The Best Things I Saw This Week:

 

Impulse on Young Justice? That is totally crash. I also loved seeing that Central City is clearly my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. I mean, sure, they have the arch in the middle of a city when there should be a dirty river behind it, but it’s totally St. Louis!

 

WORKAHOLICS IS BACK!

 

Does anybody else love Angel & Faith as much as I do?

 

For that matter, Christos Gage really is my favorite up and coming writer at Marvel right now. X-Men Legacy and Avengers Academy are must read, but even on top of that we have Angel & Faith out of Dark Horse that is one of my favorite reads every month (and still better than Buffy). He’s a hell of a writer that is going to break out sooner than later, Marvel just needs to pull the trigger on a big name title…or DC needs to lure him back. I’d love to see his Teen Titans.

 

America’s Got Powers is so awesome. Some of the best art I have ever seen out of Bryan Hitch.

 

My Pissed Off Moment of the Week:

 

I did something to my back last Monday that’s more or less left me laid up. Unfortunately for me, I don’t tend to wind up in situations where I’m allowed to take a day off to try and rest it. So I don’t know if I wrenched or strained or pulled or pinched something, but I do know that I’m in a ridiculous amount of pain. I am literally writing this column as a painkiller this week, after being in too much pain to finish it last week. Focusing on this is allowing me to ignore some of the agony. More so than sitting here playing Diablo would.

 

Top Five Moments of the Week:

 

 

5. The world is better off without Spidey? Go figure. Amazing Spider-Man Annual #39

 

4. Scenes like this are why I love this book, or really anything based on Whedon. Gage does a great job with Angel & Faith #10.

3. The Hulk and The Punisher would be such great friends. Incredible Hulk #8

2. And this is why Rogue is awesome. X-Men Legacy #267

 

1. If there was a reality show with these kinds of factoids, I’d totally watch it. America’s Got Powers #2.

 

 

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The Gold Standard

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