Friday, June 1, 2012

on "Before Watchmen" and DC making the forgotten Green Lantern gay

I don't know whether the Before Watchmen books will be worth reading, but I know they won't be worth publishing for at least four reasons:

1. Before Watchmen already exists. It's every superhero comic ever published before Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created Watchmen. The point of Watchmen is it's the culmination of the superhero comics everyone knew.

2. Before Watchmen is a prequel. People don't want to see a backstory fleshed out that only elaborates on what they know. I haven't read Before Watchmen and don't plan to, but I suspect DC has created their Phantom Menace.

3. DC's reason for doing Before Watchmen isn't artistic. It's pure Capitalism 101: when you have something that's profitable, milk it and shear it until it's time to send it to the knacker.

4. Before Watchmen is designed to be compared to something that's greatly admired. Working on Before Watchmen would be like working on Before Casablanca: Do you really want to be despised?

As for DC's decision to make Alan Scott—the Green Lantern they don't promote much, the Green Lantern on the "alternate" Earth that's not the one that counts in the DC universe—their gay superhero, yawn. They're right that at least one of the original 1940s superheros should come out of the closet, but if they want to make a meaningful change in the DCU, they also need to out a hero who was relevant in the '60s, a hero from Earth One, the world that matters to casual readers. I suggest Elongated Man or the Martian Manhunter, even though both of their names inspire obvious jokes. Or better yet, Hawkman—a gay Hawkman and a straight Hawkwoman could make an entertaining duo.

11 comments:

  1. lol at the Martian Manhunter -- that is just too big of a joke with the name to take seriously. Plus he's not even human so I don't think it'd be the same if he's the one they made gay.

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    1. True about the Manhunter, but because he's a shapeshifter, they could do something I thought they should've done with Chameleon Boy decades ago: reveal that his gender is whatever he chooses at the time.

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  2. Was always a Marvel fan, never much of a DC reader, so it's merely a mildly academic subject for me -- but if I were gay, wow, way to marginalize me -- the gay character really *doesn't* count, as you point out...

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  3. The point of making Alan Scott gay was something that may have sounded good in theory; that Green Lantern was the father of another superhero, Obsidian, who was revealed as gay some years after his introduction. This may have been intended as a tribute to Green Lantern co-creator Bill Finger, who had a gay son. Since it was decided the newly rebooted version of Alan Scott would be too young to have an adult child, this meant DC would be losing a gay character. (Apparently the publisher didn't consider Obsidian to be a sufficiently interesting character to reboot as well.) The writer of the book wanted to make a gesture in support of diversity and suggested making the new Alan Scott gay instead. Unfortunately, as you say, it's an empty choice due to the obscurity of the character. It's confusing because DC is heavily promoting a different character with the same name.

    Also, it reduces "diversity" to a checklist when you say "let's take an existing character and make him/her a different race/orientation/outlook so we can say we have one of 'those people' in our stories" instead of saying "all these attributes are an integral part of what makes a given character, and changing one aspect changes a great many other aspects." Like, a black Nick Fury has had an entirely different life experience than a white Nick Fury, you know? He becomes a whole new person.

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  4. Also, it's about time for Wonder Woman to be returned to her real roots and be depicted as in a committed loving relationship with a man (Steve Trevor) and a woman (I guess it would have to be Etta Candy). Mind you, I don't think any writer working today understands the significance of bondage and discipline in Wonder Woman, but taking it out has been as disastrous for her as it would be to say "Superman wasn't an immigrant from a destroyed planet, he's now a mutant Earthman but everything else is the same" or "Bruce Wayne's parents weren't killed, they just disowned him for being a playboy idler." You take away the heart of the character, all you have left is a costume.

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    1. P.S.: Er, I don't mean bisexuality and bondage are related! Those were meant to be two separate thoughts. I want her living in a threesome AND introducing her partners to the ways of her people.

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    2. I'll sidestep the issue of Wonder Woman's sexuality, 'cause that one's just tricky. Well, except I think Wonder Woman should be from a place where lesbians are the norm and the idea of sex with a man for anything other than procreation is considered queer.

      As for the diversity issue, my complaint with what it sounds like DC's doing with Earth Two is they're not going far enough. If superpowers are parceled out randomly, the Justice Society should look more like the US. Making a blond guy gay doesn't go nearly far enough.

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    3. Okay, one more thing: for me, what was most important about the Steve Trevor relationship was that he was perfectly comfortable being the supportive member of the team, the person who has no problem helping the more awesome half of the relationship be as awesome as she can be. It's how I feel about Emma.

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    4. Re Steve Trevor: yes this, exactly. And William Marston felt the same. (When the next writer came along and suddenly Steve was saying "When will you quit being Wonder Woman and be my wife?" the book and the character never recovered.)

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  5. I liked Spider-Man writer Dan Slott's line on Twitter: "The REAL 'Before Watchmen' comic would show pages of Alan Moore reading stacks of Charlton Comics and watching an Outer Limits episode."

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