Monday, June 4, 2012

Seriously, DC, I Do Not Have Time for This

DC Comics has just announced that they are introducing a brand new version of Alan Scott, who was the first Green Lantern, into their post Flashpoint Earth 2 continuity as a gay man. 

Frankly I am appalled.

Although, with those colors, he did look kinda fabulous.

Mind you, I'm not appalled because of the gender preference of what is basically a new individual with the name of an over seventy year old fictional character.  They’ve flushed most everything I knew about DC continuity down the toilet already.  This change hardly matters, and more diversity in their narrow "18-35 year old white straight guy" target marketing should be a good thing. (He said hoping for titles aimed at all the women in his family who read comics, or even aging comic book fans, which he is rapidly becoming.) But since almost all the heroes are still white men, or half dressed women, they might want to try a little harder.  At this point, if I was still getting upset about changes, the fact that the ads hint that Earth 2 Batman and Superman kill people is a much larger violation of existing characters than Alan's lifestyle...but I'm sure the media won't make a fuss about that.
Till death, or major continuity rewrite, do we part.
I am also not appalled because we’re losing the relationship between Alan and Molly, and between them and the rest of the couples in the JSA, including the entertaining and engaging stories those relationships led to.  Considering the losses of Lois and Clark, Ralph and Sue, Wally and Linda, Barry and Iris, etc. etc. the loss of the Scotts is pretty minor.

Making a big press release out of what should be no big deal, and thus jumping on the news coattails of Northstar’s wedding over at Marvel may be a sound financial idea.  Although one would think highlighting their existing homosexual characters would make DC look better and more diverse than using the “Hey! He’s Gay” ray.

However, there’s been no sighting of a marketing push for Stormwatch featuring Apollo and Midnighter, or the new Batwoman. (Who premiered in a flurry of publicity and was then ignored for a year before her series began.)  Come to think of it, there hasn’t been any sightings AT ALL of Obsidian, Tasmanian Devil, the blue Starman, Extrano (fortunately) or the Question. (While I’m babbling, we can add Montoya to the list of characters I miss in this reboot.)

Also both companies are way behind Archie Comics’ Kevin Keller character, in terms of exposure and publicity. Seriously guys, if you’re chasing Archie when it comes to social relevance, you REALLY need to try harder.

No, the reason I am appalled at this particular choice of DC’s is because, as the “Comic Book Guy” in my family, at work, and other places, I’m going to have to go through variations of the following conversation countless times as the media's “Gay Lantern” stories on slow news days keep popping up, and frankly I don't have the time or the patience for it.

Hey, did you hear Green Lantern is gay?  I thought Ryan Reynolds played it a bit campy.
-Not him. Hal is still an overconfident, rule breaking womanizer, which the media never made a fuss about either.  They mean another Green Lantern.

Oh right…It’s that guy from the Justice League cartoon, no wonder he didn’t want to stay with Hawkgirl.  Don’t ask don’t tell, right?
- No, John isn't the one.

Really?  Oh I know! That loud mouthed one on the Brave and Bold cartoon with the bad haircut, I knew he was overcompensating.
- Sorry, not Guy. It’s…

Wait, I remember - there was one on the old Superman cartoon…
-You can’t call Superman: the Animated Series old.

It was the nineties, that’s ancient.
- *Sigh*

Anyway, there was an episode where Jimmy’s friend got a ring.
He was an artist; it’s gotta be the artist right?
-No it isn’t Kyle either.

Well how many other Green Lanterns can there be?
- Over seventy two hundred in the corps.

rather a lot, isn't it?  
- Most of them are pairs separated out in each sector of space.

Oh yeah. Like all those aliens in the movie.
- Right.

A gay alien, cool. 
- Um...

Bet it’s that fish guy, he was kinda swishy.
- He’s a bird.

The movie said he was a fish.
- The movie’s wrong. Trust me, Xudarians are birds.

He looked like a fish.
- Don’t make me come over there.

A gay fish.

- A gay bird?

Fine, what about... 
- Before you ask:
It’s also not the hippopotamus, the slug, the giant head, the lizard, the crystal, the vulcan, the dog, the mushroom, the robot, the insect, the planet, the statue, the broccoli…

The broccoli?
- Yes.

There's a Broccoli Green Lantern?
- Yes, Medphyll.

That sure sounds g...

Wait, I know!
- Dear Lord, what now?
That pink guy from the movie with the pencil thin mustache.
Could they make it any more obvious?
- It’s not Sinestro either, and most of the time, he uses a Yellow Lantern anyway.

There are different colored lanterns?
A whole emotional spectrum of them.

Is there a pink one? That would be perfect for him.
- No...
Sort of. The Violet Lanterns look more pink than violet, but that corps is all women in impossibly skimpy costumes who are powered by love.

You just made that up, you degenerate.
- Just…
Forget the other colors, it IS a Green Lantern and it IS a human male.

Is is Charlie Vickers?
- No... 
Wait. There's no way you'd know about Charlie Vickers, you hypothetical non comic book reading person.

I know. You're just showing off.
- Ah.

So which Green Lantern is it?
- Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth 2.

Earth what, now?
Earth 2 was originally the alternate universe where they put all the Golden Age original versions of the characters that got revamped in the 1960’s. Alan is the first Green Lantern who started in 1940, wasn't part of a corps, but was a member of the Justice Society.

So they’ll make the change to one of their oldest characters to highlight the difficulties of living an alternative lifestyle back in more conservative times and illustrate how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.
That’s pretty bold.  
- Well…Not exactly.
See, after Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985 they merged all the alternate Earths together into one timeline. Then the old Justice Society guys predated the modern age of heroes and served as mentors and teachers.

So they’ll have one of the elder statesman of the hero community living an alternative lifestyle and show how everyone still looks up to him and can learn from his knowledge and experience. That’s pretty bold.   [footnote- see below]
-Well…Not exactly. 
See, after Flashpoint last summer they rebooted the entire DC Universe and started all the comics at issue number one with younger heroes in new costumes with new backgrounds. (Which is the same thing they’re doing in the sporadically produced “Earth One” hardcover graphic novels and "All Star" limited series, but never mind that now.) 

 Nu Alan
In the Nu52, gay definitely no longer means "happy"
In the “Nu52” as they call it, Earth 2 is just another (grimmer and grittier) alternate universe where everyone has the same names as the old Earth 2, but are practically brand new individuals that are younger and have new costumes and backgrounds.  Since it isn’t the mainstream storyline universe the newness is kind of redundant and it will be even easier to erase once the Flashpoint changes go away.

They will go away. Check the merchandise in “normal” stores.
Almost all the characters are still in classic versions of their costumes.

So what you’re saying with all this Alternate Universe stuff is that even though they said Green Lantern is gay, it’s not even the real Green Lantern.
- Well, technically, none of them are real.

Then why do you waste so much time remembering so many details about so many of them?
Touche’ my friend…touche’.

Footnote- Nine years later, they did exactly this. And some other stuff.


Joanne D. (cat lady) said...

"Very" Ha Ha and Thinkworthy Jeff,

I'm sure there are many of us in the Universe that wished that they would leave a Good Thing Alone, especially DC's Green Lantern !
what next, will they tarnish the myth of "Bigfoot"?! He's not a comic hero, he "is" real and I "do believe", but really, isn't anything sacred anymore !!!
Great writing again Jeff !!! Joanne D.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx, and Glad you enjoyed it. I don't think any comic book character can be considered as "sacred" anymore. Changes are costant and rampant. Adam West and Christian Bale can both be said to be accurate representations of comic book Batman. My complaint is the media bothering to make a big deal out of this one. Now Bigfoot is another story, no one would dare reboot him...Where would they get boots that big anyway?

Jeff McGinley said...

What do you know? Turns out I didn't have to bother with this complicated explanation. Someone else summed the situation up perfectly... and MUSICALLY!

Sethno said...

I don't mean to be unkind, but Adam West's Batman was NEVER an accurate representation of the comicbook character. The show was done in an incredibly "tongue in cheek" style, an ongoing joke, and while the comics back then may have had their moments (and influences from the show) the comicbook Batman was always presented in a fairly serious way.

Jeff McGinley said...

Everyone's entitiled to thier own views, However, I have to ask, have you read the "Showcase Presents Batman" collections (or actual comics) from just before and during the time of the West show? Some of the plots on the series are taken directly from those comics. And the 1950's stories (that Morrison referenced for his Black Casebook stuff) were even goofier and in some cases borderline insane. The show did get sillier as time passed, but the Batman comics of the day were pretty loopy to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Three words: Northstar/Kyle Wedding. Marvel wrote Northstar as a gay man right from the beginning. I think the new green lantern being written as a gay man may be DC's attempt at stealing some of Marvels thunder given the upcoming nuptials! Northstar was a gay male character. In 1992! the link below cracked me up and it highlights the Marvel Swimsuit Issue...It's great! theres always been an incredibly wide range of characters from the fertile minds of a comic writer, I mean the human sexual preference spectrum of Straight/LGBT/Intersex seems pretty hum-drum when you have characters who are just energy and sentient plants. Open minds abound in the writer's offices.. maybe not so many open minds in the boardroom! It will change...Good stories always change things..Enjoy the link

Jeff McGinley said...

Many thanx for the comment, the thoughts and the link. (Good Lord, I had no idea people wrote letters to those Marvel Swimsuit things, I thought they were obvious gags...guess one man's obvious is another' so obvious [sorry that one got away from me])

I honestly dont think changing Alan was an attempt to steal the wedding's thunder. Maybe I'm naive but I'd think it takes longer to plan/write/draw/release a comic than that. I DO believe that having two full press releases ("Who will it be?" and "It's Alan!" ) was totally designed to steal the thunder.

Great points about the variety of relationships in comics. Even some "normal" ones (Lois and Clark, Nightwing and Starfire) are interspecies. Then there's the really extreme ones like Abby and Swamp Thing, or Supergirl and Comet (proving once again, it's hard to out crazy the silver age.)

thanx again!

Anonymous said...

Medphyll the brocolli GL was outed back in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing!

Jeff McGinley said...

Interesting take on that story. I know when I first read it I took Medphyll's relationship with his mentor to be one of a son to father, but reading it again it could go the other way. It's hard to pinpoint the gender specific roles of a relationship between sentient flora when one is actually a deceased body given life by a disembodied space travelling lost plant element who recently combined much of the population of the planet into a hive minded giant monster. Y'know, the fact that I could even conceive of that sentence, nevermind execute it indicates I probably need professional help.

More embarrasing than missing Medphyll's relationship status is the realization that (in that story anyway) he looks far more like a carrot than broccoli...but since broccoli is funnier, I'm sticking with the original.

Bruce Fieggen said...

I think you might like this link showing 75 years of Batman evolution:

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx for the link, it's something comic fans often forget. Those tiny sections about the comics themselve, for "Silver age" and "bronze age" for example, contain HUGE amounts of variations and sub sets. In fact the Adam West show was based on and then influenced a part of silver age comics, and the Animated series was an attempt to use the recognition of the Burton films and then add in elements from the then modern age comics, but most"regular" people only know the movies and tv shows.