Linky Blogging

Some things I found amusing out in the blogverse…

BeaucoupKevin talks about DC’s January solicitations. I am thrilled to see that we get both a Showcase Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes (although it might be a tad difficult to tell all those straight-laced boys and girls apart without their colorful costumes) and a Wonder Woman: Greatest Stories Ever Told. (I’ll love seeing the classic stuff, but I’m a little worried about what they consider “today’s epics”. Often that’s code for “modern versions that don’t live up to the originals but we didn’t want to insult creators or imply that today’s stories aren’t as good as older ones.” You can see why it needs code.)

I don’t normally care about fan-generated “what if” ideas, but this one is amazing — Whereof one can speak connects historical trends to come up with “What if Captain America were gay?” It’s one of those eye-opening premises that makes you think “of course! why did no one else see that?”

If a gay Steve Rogers became Captain America in the canonical way, fought the Nazis in the canonical way, and got frozen before the war ended, then got unfrozen in, oh, let’s say, the mid-1960s… Well. The US government of the time might not be too pleased once they found out (as they inevitably would, since Cap is much too honest and straightforward to be capable of remaining closeted, and much too good-looking to stay single for long) that their country’s poster boy was a faggot. And Cap wouldn’t take kindly to being told that his sexual orientation made him persona non grata despite his long and distinguished record of service. Place him in a gay bar that gets raided by overenthusiastic police (which was a frequent occurrence at the time) (yes, yes, I know Cap doesn’t drink; maybe he’s meeting somebody — c’mon, work with me here) and he certainly wouldn’t let the patrons get beaten up. He’d fight back, standing up for their rights as Americans. Captain America fighting cops who are beating up queers? That would make front page news.

I would love to see this. Too bad it will never happen.

Ian Brill points out another great “what if”, this time one that exists. Check out his second item on that page, about What If #34, where Roger Stern and Ed Hannigan present “what would happen if superhero stories featured the characters just standing around talking to each other.” Only it’s from 1982, if I’ve read my references correctly.

Last, more on Alex Ross’ thoughts on Obsidian. I was copied on his clarification, but every response it raised in me was too mean for two people (counting Andy Mangels, and a nice amount of self-promotion he ladled in there, too (see what I mean?)) who I do believe were trying to do the right thing.

Ok, I will say that I thought Alex Ross pulled a John Byrne. He says he wants to respect “the groundwork the original creators put down [and] be true to their earliest definitions.” Then (and I love this part, that it took him so long to remember, duh, Roy Thomas is alive) “I realized this morning that I had the rare option of finding out in this case, and I called Roy Thomas.” Roy basically doesn’t care, but that doesn’t stop Ross still being upset, because “Being gay is a fundamental aspect of a character” and since it wasn’t revealed in the very beginning, it should never happen. (Leaving aside just how many people come out of the closet later in life for a variety of reasons.)

In other words, the original creators are all, until he disagrees with them. See? It’s a Byrne. At least Ross admits “I’d say I’m just a little bit of a hypocrite.”


10 Responses to “Linky Blogging”

  1. kate Says:

    Yeah, that was my immediate reaction upon reading his clarification. “Oh, he’s just gone the Byrne route. Shrug.”

    So in other words, yes, what he was saying is somewhat homophobic (in the sense that this society in general is homophobic and he’s simply not examining his assumptions), but not actively offensive.

    (I would assume he didn’t object to Northstar’s coming out, given his logic, but one never knows.)

  2. Journalista » Blog Archive » Dec. 15, 2006: Don’t ask Dr. Hal Says:

    [...] Oooh, here’s one Alex Ross probably wouldn’t like: What if Captain America was gay? (Link via Johanna Draper Carlson.) [...]

  3. Jer Says:

    You summarized this, but I really thought it was the best bit:

    “Roy told me that Obsidian’s being gay was not necessarily inherent in the character from the beginning, but it’s not offensive or ill-suited to who he was.”

    Roy Thomas told him that this was a change that made sense. And I think its an even stronger statement here than saying “Roy Thomas basically doesn’t care” – at least the way that Ross formulated the response, Thomas seems to be saying that it made some sense for the character to take that direction. That would be enough for me to shuffle off with my tail between my legs if I was trying to make the “creator disrespect” argument.

    I know that I have some of my own annoying fanboy tics when it comes to superhero comics that I harp on about (like the fact that it irritates me to no end that the companies always want superheroes to be more “realistic” and serious), but it irritates me to see stuff like this in creators. I know it shouldn’t – that the only difference between most of them and the folks I BS with at the comic store or online is the level of talent they have and the fact that they pursued a career in their chosen fandom – but I still think that they should be thinking a bit more about stuff like this than it seems like they do.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for elaborating, Jer, those are good points. Bear in mind that sometimes, becoming a pro means that they’re even MORE of a fan than many people, because they loved it so much that they kept pursuing it, even when other careers and fields would be more rewarding.

  5. Dan Coyle Says:

    While I liked Earth X, I wonder how Thomas feels about what Ross and Kreuger did in that series, because there’s a lot there that I don’t necessarily think he would approve of.

  6. Chris Galdieri Says:

    Somehow, this mini-controversy gives the Obsidian action figure Mattel’s releasing next year a whole added layer of entertainment value.

  7. Michael Denton Says:

    One of the main differences with pro’s is that they _should_ be more careful. People do, rightly or wrongly, look up to them and give what they say more weight than they do other people.

    So when a very popular or respected creator like Ross makes a statement that essentially says “being gay is a bad thing” even implicitly people give that statement or sentiment a certain level of credibility that it doesn’t necessarily deserve, but is higher than if average fan said it in the comic shop. So, heterosexist thought and priviledge becomes reinforced.

    Gay readers, especially young gay readers, potentially may have their self-image damaged because they give more credit to a statement by a pro than they would by average fan making the same comment or implication.

    That’s why it annoys me – professionals have a responsibility, a social and civic one, even if they don’t realize it.

  8. Michael Denton Says:

    In fairness to Ross, I will say I appreciate his amplification and clarification of his original statement on the Prism Comics site (www.prismcomics.org). I think it shows an appropriate level of contriteness and introspection into his word choice.

  9. Kef Says:

    “counting Andy Mangels, and a nice amount of self-promotion he ladled in there, too”

    Sneering at fictional gay characters: Wrong.
    Sneering at real gay people just because they won’t back up your attempt to show how really cool and enlightened and unprejudiced and right-on you are: Juuuuuust fine.

  10. Johanna Says:

    Where does sneering at people anonymously because they made fun of someone making it all about them fit on your little scale? Just so I’m totally well-informed.

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