DC Comics has announced that a major character of their superhero roster previously assumed to be straight will be revealed to be gay. If you follow the comics industry this is not potentially Earth-destroying news necessitating a preventive superhero team-up, as the past few decades have seen a shift in direction for more diverse, identifiable characterizations. After all, comics tend to reflect and comment on current issues, culture and society in general; in fact, Marvel Comics has been doing it since the 1960s, introducing, as example, both the X-Men and The Avengers. However, it is relatively new territory for DC, the most recent character Kate Kane, a.k.a. Batwoman, revealed to be a lesbian when re-introduced to the DC Universe in 2006.
There is quite a bit of speculation circulating, particularly concerning the iconic five of the DCU:
Why Batman? Why not? A womanizing playboy by day who cloaks himself in secrecy, and who has never had, with few exceptions, a solid heterosexual relationship. Does he hide some deep secret under the cowl other than his identity? A lot of people are pointing to his apparent peculiarities concerning his various young sidekicks as evidence. Except, it doesn’t point to Bruce Wayne being gay; it points more to him being a pedophile…which would never sit well with the protective Batman. Besides, as previously mentioned, there already is a gay character – Batwoman – in the Batman family. Plus, in several previous incarnations, Bruce Wayne did have relationships, albeit short-lived, with Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman, and Talia al Ghul, which respectively produced a daughter, Helena Wayne, who became Huntress, and a son, Damian Wayne, who became Robin. Agreed, that means nothing concerning sexual orientation. Even in the new continuity, would DC limit themselves in future storylines involving relationships between Bruce Wayne and female protagonists? What would be the point to any flirtatious offerings, other than as a knowing wink to the reader as if to say, “we know you know this isn’t going anywhere.” Of course, if it were to lead to something, than by all measures it at least would make Bruce Wayne bisexual – and a cop out for DC, weakening the whole point.
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan or Guy Gardner)
An all-American, womanizing test pilot with commitment issues? Hellooo…obviously hiding from a deeper issue. A superhero that knows about accessorizing with costume jewelry and frequently teams-up with the spandex body-suited Flash? Who constantly argues with the first superhero on this list? Jealously will drive you mad, especially if Batman would rather partner with a woman and an alien. Excepting, of course, that Hal Jordan really does love his long-time sweetheart Carol Ferris; he just constantly feels unworthy of her love because of his fear of failing her. On the flipside, Guy Gardner is a stereotypical red-blooded, ultra macho American male who has a chip on his shoulder, constantly trying to prove his worth to other male superheroes…not to mention gain the approval of his abusive father as a teen. Perhaps for good reason?
As twice mentioned, there already is a lesbian among the DC roster. How original would it be to take THE iconic strong woman and make her a lesbian? Not at all, as if you needed an answer to the question. Sure, she was born and raised in a tribe of Amazons. Yes, she is an exemplar of the liberated woman, empowered by love and a superiority complex. At times, she has had anger issues directed at men and a world ruled by them. Yet, in previous incarnations, she has romantic affections for Steve Trevor…another limit to future storylines and the potential of having to recon bisexuality into her canon. Another cop out.
A guy literally from another planet who is also gay? A superhuman guy who becomes a super weakling when faced with green kryptonite? Talk about alienating (pun intended) your apparently targeted readership: homosexuality is fine…as long as you’re from another planet, and can stand up for yourself. Not to mention that even non-comic fans know of the love affair that is Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
Flash (Barry Allen or Wally West)
Of the iconic five, this is the least likely candidate. There are far too many characters connected by a heterosexual Barry Allen: his children, with Iris West, Don and Dawn Allen, known as the Tornado Twins, and his grandson, Bart Allen, who eventually takes up the mantle of The Flash. Again, sexual orientation doesn’t dictate the propagation of offspring, but a gay Barry Allen enormously limits the storyline and canon. On the flipside, Wally West had a strained relationship with his parents, often turning to his aunt and uncle, Barry and Iris Allen, for support and guidance. Sound like a familiar story of a teen conflicted about his sexual orientation? Unfortunately, what is true for Barry is also true for Wally – even in a new continuity, a gay Wally West severely limits the storyline and canon in connection to related characters.
So, who will it be? Will it be any of these five? And does it matter? Humans are an evolution, and our attitudes must as well evolve. Comics have always been a rich source trumpeting and revealing that nature.
©2012 Steve Sagarra