Karen: David B made a comment in the Suggestion Box on Friday about the news that the Green Lantern of Earth 2, Alan Scott, is now gay in the new DC Universe. I'm curious how you BABsters feel about this change. Personally, I've been glad to see more gay characters in comics, just as I was pleased to see an increase in characters of different ethnic groups over the years. I think it's great for everyone to get some representation. But this particular decision seems contrived. Writer James Robinson said in an interview that in the 'old' universe, Scott had a gay son, Obsidian, but with the advent of the new universe, he had disappeared. He felt badly about the removal of a gay character, so his solution was to turn the new, young and unmarried Scott into a gay man.
Karen: I can understand what Robinson's saying, but I can't help but think that the primary reason DC is doing this is to get some press. After all, they could have just made the character gay and never made a big announcement.
Doug: As you all know, I'm not reading anything new these days (for the past several years, really). But wasn't the new Batwoman a lesbian? I seem to recall some press about that. I think, as you said, that this is somewhat contrived and for my money is reactionary to the news out of Marvel that Alpha Flight's Northstar is going to get married. I believe he was the first gay character from Marvel or DC. At any rate, it doesn't matter to me in real life who is gay or straight -- the quality of a man's or woman's life is my measuring stick. Do I have feelings about some of the hot-button political issues of today? Sure I do. But a person's worth goes beyond their political, cultural, or sexual persuasions in my book. So for DC to make a big deal about this in the press is bandwagoning to one extent, exploitive to another.
Doug: Quite some time ago -- can't recall when -- we had an Open Forum where the political and/or religious backgrounds/leanings of certain characters became a topic of discussion. Let's face it -- characters from both companies through the years have been written pretty blandly in these areas (Ollie Queen under Dennis O'Neil perhaps the notable exception), and I guess overall that's where I'd like them to be -- not the drab one-size-fits-all of Silver Age DC... they can still have a little personality. But one of our commenters said that once it's known that a given character is Catholic, or a vegan, or divorced, or gay, or whatever, readers form prejudices for or against that character and they cease to be just that -- a character, and may become instead a caricature. Personally I don't read comics for my social commentary, and overall it's not important to me that our fictional friends necessarily mirror the demographics outside the four color page. Let me add one exception -- the expansion of racially/ethnically diverse characters has been welcome, as you stated; but as far as peeling away the onion... Am I making any sense here??
Karen: I see what you're saying, but I think people like to see themselves represented in movies, books, and TV. There have been many groups of people who over the years have not received much attention. I think of the story Whoopi Goldberg has told about how excited she was as a young girl when she saw Lt. Uhura on Star Trek for the first time. She ran to her mother and said, "There's a black lady on TV and she's not a maid!" There's something to be said for having characters, in any medium, represent society at large. But I'd like it to be a more natural, organic development and not some pre-meditated publicity stunt. However it shakes out, I just hope they do a good job with it. But honestly, I really miss the old Earth 2, with the senior citizen heroes who had sons and daughters. That was really different, and special, and I think it was a huge mistake to wipe that out.