Good Characters Who Happen To Be…
It has been kind of an interesting week for comic book fans this week, at least in my RSS Reader!
For one thing, both DC and Marvel seem to be trying to get in on the Archie team’s talent for getting press coverage by making announcements about gay characters.
In Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men, there’s going to be a gay marriage (there’s a preview of the super cute proposal here) between two fairly minor (but still interesting) characters. Astonishing X-Men has, historically, been a prominent and strong part of the Marvel Universe — the first 24 issues were written by Joss Whedon, of Buffy-creating and Avengers-directing fame, and the second run was written by Grant Morrison, one of the most highly-regarded writers working currently. So even though Northstar is not a particularly well-known member of the X-Men (to the general public, anyway), this is still pretty big news.
Not to be outdone in getting press attention (and also dealing with relevant social issues, presumably), DC has announced that it plans to bring an established character out of the closet. So much of the coverage thus far has revolved around which character this will be. Obviously it’s not going to be Superman or Batman, but it would be interesting for some incarnation of Green Lantern or Flash to be gay (but since there are several versions of each character, this might not affect your favorite, so don’t worry, homophobes!). Those are both very well-known and highly visible members of the DC Universe and have existed for over 50 years, so to have one of those iconic uniforms associated with being gay would be pretty cool, I think, especially for gay kids looking for heroes.
To be fair, DC already has one really GREAT gay character—Batwoman, Kate Kane. One of the things I like most about her (I have mentioned her several times here because I am a huge fan) is that, while she’s a lesbian, she’s not like “The Lesbian Character”—she’s fully fleshed out, has a myriad of personality quirks and other signs of actual characterization, has a complicated backstory, and being a lesbian is just one aspect of who she is—like actual, real-life lesbians, one assumes. This is partially due to Greg Rucka, who reinvented the character for Batwoman: Elegy, one of the best superhero books I’ve ever read.
In fact, if you’re interested, here’s a great essay by Rucka about writing “strong female characters” —i.e., good characters who happen to be female— something I talk about here a lot, because it’s rarely done well in mainstream comic books. And for more bonus Rucka content, here’s an interview of him by Brian Michael Bendis, another very famous comic book writer, which doesn’t talk about women characters at all but is an interesting conversation between two creators.
To end on a sillier note, did you know Martha Stewart wants to be the Hulk’s girlfriend?