The scuttlebutt over the last few days has been the plans by DC Comics to reveal in Earth 2 #2 that Alan Scott, Earth’s Green Lantern, is in fact gay. I know that there has been opinions on all sides on this that has depicted intolerance: those on the extreme religious conservative right that see this as an orchestrated effort to brainwash youth while on the other side of the debate the extreme latte liberal left taking any opportunity, even this one, to advance their ongoing world view that paints anyone who follows a mainstream religion or has faith as intolerant.
Well, what about the rest of us, the majority of us, that are stuck between these two solitudes? Who speaks for us?
I am a person of faith and I practice that faith. The extreme right wing fringe don’t speak for me nor do the bloggers on the extreme left. I am centrist politically and in terms of my faith, well that’s between me and God. That said, my religious leaders are quite progressive on many issues yet still rooted in a strong moral foundation. The values of my faith are what guide me in views and, more importantly, in my actions.
I am disappointed that the kooks on the extreme right and left have framed this debate exclusively on homosexuality. Therein lies the challenge because of the online chatter I’ve read, both the extreme right and extreme left seem to agree on one thing: seemingly that homosexual citizens are exclusively defined by their sexuality and that’s why this Alan Scott coming out thing is bad for the extreme right and good for the extreme left.
Well, you’re both wrong and writer James Robinson actually “gets” it.
Even in the pages from Earth 2 that DC Comics has released, we see a matter-of-fact portrayal. Nothing over-the-top at all (see left and right). In fact, I was pleased to read that Robinson has his head screwed on straight or, um queer, or whatever, when he said:
As is implied by the cover, which features Jay Garrick, the meat of issue #2 is Jay’s origin and him becoming the Flash. But we will see more of Alan Scott and then set up the events that lead to him becoming a Green Lantern in issue #3. That’s how it’s going to play out…
That seems to signal that critics and boosters are making WAY TOO MUCH about this small matter. The fact there are gay people or even people of color in comics is not an agenda setting thing, but a reflection of reality. It does not condone or overly glorify any lifestyle or choice of lifemate. It’s just a recognition of fact. In a lesser writer this may be what the critics dread, but James Robinson has proven over the years that where he has tackled it, his portrayal of homosexual relationships are grounded.
There is not an oversensationalization or oversexualization in his portrayals. All of the gay people I know in the real world are not exclusively defined by their sexuality despite the simplistic portrayals by other comic book companies of gay characters or by other media.
James Robinson’s Starman run has examples of his measured and sensitive portrayals. His approach to this topic in Earth 2 was outlined in recent interviews through which news broke that Alan Scott, Earth 2’s Green Lantern, was gay in the post-Flashpoint DC Comics multiverse. Robinson indicated that:
…When I make a character gay, it’s like I’ve decided to make a character left-handed or something. It’s such a non-issue to me that I’m surprised at times.
I mean, I can’t speak for Dan DiDio [DC Comics Co-Publisher], but he went off and — it wasn’t like he made a big, trumpeting announcement. He made an off-hand comment at a panel in London. And the fact that it’s gotten all this attention, I’m honestly a little surprised by it.
But ultimately, I think, if it draws attention to, you know, the fact that Alan Scott is this cool, heroic guy that would risk his life for the world and for his people, and is the kind of guy that if you had to give one person superpowers, it would be Alan Scott. And the fact that he happens to be gay as well, if it draws attention to the fact that he’s this great person and that gay people are great people.
There does not appear to be an “agenda” by DC Comics around this issue. I take Robinson at his word that with the de-aging of Alan Scott we lost his children from the old continuity: Jade and Obsidian. The latter of which was a prominent and positive gay male role model.
That said, if this was all part of a true agenda, and not a story-first item as portrayed, than DC Comics could and should be seen as being timid.
If one of their Prime Earth Big Seven Justice League characters turned out to be gay, THAT would be bold. Making an Alternate Earth’s super-hero homosexual hardly seems to fit the narrative of extreme right critics or extreme left boosters of a master gay plan. If there was one, we’d see it in another truly iconic DC Comics character.
Listen, historically Alan Scott has been one of my favorite DC Comics characters. I’m more disappointed with the de-aging of Alan Scott than I am of his sexual orientation change in the New 52. In Earth 2, Alan does not have kids Jade and Obsidian. Infinity Inc. doesn’t exist since this Earth 2’s Justice Society is just forming. There is no second or third generation heroes on this world derived from the Justice Society.
While I have faith in James Robinson stewardship of Earth 2, and I am excited about what I have read so far and what I’ve seen teased so far, but a part of me (a small part maybe), remains saddened by the loss of Infinity Inc. THAT is what true comic book fans should be obsessing over not a change in sexuality.
And, if you’re upset about Alan Scott’s sexuality in the New 52, wait until you see what else James Robinson has in store. A recent interview ended with him uttering these words:
Well, I don’t want to give too much away, because I haven’t introduced these characters yet, but you will see a little bit more racial diversity and you’ll definitely see a few changes of gender. Absolutely.
Earth 2 is seemingly shaping up to be more unpredictable than any other New 52 book out there. In fairness, James Robinson probably has more freedom to do things in an Alternate World’s sandbox than writers on DC Comics’ more recognizable Prime Earth icons.
Time will tell if fans flock to such an unpredictable book. This long-time Justice Society fan will be sticking around to see what’s around the next corner.
Finally, this message goes directly out to all you righties and lefties who don’t read comic books and are weighing in on this issue: “GET OUT OF OUR BACKYARD!” If you don’t love the comic book medium, than you don’t deserve to have a voice in this dialogue. Period.
I’ll give the last substantive words of this column to DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio from Facebook. On the topic of diversity, particularly about the four diverse Super Friends from the 1970s who appear to be making their debut on the Young Justice Invasion TV series on Cartoon Network, I asked Dan whether we could also see them finally make their New 52 debut. His response, I think, outlines DC’s view on diversity including the portrayal of homosexuals in their comic books:
We are always pushing for diversity in the New 52 so that [it] properly reflects our audience and the world today.
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Tags: Alan Scott, Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, Dan DiDio, DC Comics, DC Comics Relaunch, Demythify, Earth 2, El Dorado, Flash (Jay Garrick), Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Infinity Inc., Ivan Reis, Jade, James Robinson, Jay Garrick, Joe Prado, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Justice Society, nicola scott, Obsidian, Samurai, Shade (DC Comics), Starman, Super Friends, Worlds' Finest, Young Justice, Young Justice: Invasion