A couple weeks ago, DC went to all the trouble of announcing that they were going to turn one of their established characters gay. That’s great. It’s 2012, DC is on the right side of history. It’s a great idea, and welcomes in a whole new community that has been largely ignored by the major comic book publishers up until now.
The problem is, they didn’t commit.
For the last two weeks, everyone has been speculating that it might be Batman, or Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern. They’re the major players in the DC Universe, and even though they all have active heterosexual romantic relationships in the New 52 Universe, it’s not inconceivable that one of them could end up gay. It would just require some tricky continuity work. Luckily, tricky continuity is kind of a staple in comic book storytelling, so they could have found a way to make it happen.
They didn’t though. Well, they did, but in a far less meaningful way than anyone was expecting. They announced today that Green Lantern was now a homosexual. But, not THAT Green Lantern. Not the REAL Green Lantern that everyone knows, Hal Jordan. No, instead, it’s Alan Scott (the original Green Lantern from the Golden Age of DC, who was retired and replaced by Hal Jordan). But it’s not REALLY Alan Scott. No, instead, it’s an alternate reality version of Alan Scott that lives in a parallel dimension that exists in the pages of a book called “Earth 2.” (Which, by the way, is a really good book that I suggest everyone reads.)
So, the big “established character” they turned gay is an alternate universe version of a forgotten, tertiary character that nobody even cares about.
I mean, I get it. When you’re keeping the same character active for 76 years, you’re going to throw some curveballs every now and then, and make big announcements that get everyone excited about buying your comic book. Sadly, huge continuity shifts can alienate your loyal fans, especially if you’re changing a character’s sexual orientation, which is still such a polarizing issue in America.
So DC did what they always do. They pivoted. They killed Superman once, but he was back in a matter of months. Batman too. They paralyzed Batgirl in 1988, and kept her in a wheelchair for 23 years, but they even undid that with the recent New 52 reboot. When you’re keeping these characters around for decades and decades, you’re not allowed to do anything too crazy.
Which is sad. Why can’t Batman or Wonder Woman or Green Lantern be gay (the real Green Lantern, not some bullshit towheaded Green Lantern whose superpowers come from “magic”)? Most of us are ready for it, and those who aren’t maybe need a little shake-up like this to help them come around. DC made Green Lantern black once, in the early 70s, which I guess was pretty progressive of them. But, just like they’re doing now, they didn’t commit. John Stewart (the black Green Lantern) is still kicking around in the DC Universe, but he’s not a major player. He’s just a relic. A leftover from the last time DC made a splashy announcement and pivoted out of it.
I applaud DC for the effort, and I fully understand why they couldn’t commit to a major character that is gay, but I can’t help but feel a little let down by the announcement.