Recently, DC Comics announced its intent that the golden-age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, will be an openly gay character (in fact, Comic Booked posted a story on this before the official word from DC was released). When I first read this, I had very mixed feelings on the subject, and not necessarily in the way that some people may believe.
I want to be absolutely clear: I have no problem with an openly-gay character in mainstream comics. To many, comics are an escape to another world, but you still have to understand and accept the real one and understanding every facet of humanity – the stuff you agree with and the stuff you don’t – is most definitely an act we all must do. I am not a gay man, nor can I pretend to know what it is like to be one, but through well-written stories I can begin to understand which is the most that anyone can truly do.
When Northstar came out as openly gay in Alpha Flight #106, was there controversy? To be honest, I don’t remember (because there was no internet as it is today to do so – it was 1992). I have no doubt that there was, but Alpha Flight was such a low-sales title that it probably didn’t make too much notice. (And anyways, it’s about a bunch of Canadians like myself and we are vastly different up north here…)
No, I have no problem with that story arc. And in the upcoming Astonishing X-Men #51 Northstar is slated to be getting married to his boyfriend, Kyle. (I say “slated to” only because this is a Marvel comic and how many Marvel weddings turn out as planned?)
DC has introduced gay characters before. From a super-hero standpoint, let us consider Kate Kane, Batwoman. Was there controversy over this character being a strong woman who just also happens to be a lesbian? No. Why not? No strong legacy.
DC had Kyle Rayner’s assistant, Terry, come out as gay during Judd Winick’s run on the character (Kyle being, of course, another Green Lantern) and address the issue of hate crimes quite blatantly in a story arc where Terry is brutally beaten. It stirred some controversy, but how much?
And let us not forget the openly gay character currently in the Archie titles, Kevin Keller. As a comic franchise devoted to entertaining a younger crowd, Archie Comics took a risk and introduced this character and even had him get married in Life With Archie #16.
No, the controversy appears to be because it is Alan Scott, the Green Lantern, himself doing it. But really, how many people outside of those who have read DC comics know who Alan Scott is? The One Million Moms Movement went so far as to draft a post to their own website calling up0n people to write to DC and Marvel to remove all homosexual characters from their titles. Their opinion is that children should never be exposed to what is a true fact within our daily lives, but that the fantastic such as mutants, Darkseid, and Asgardian gods are all well and dandy.
To be honest, I find that ridiculous. Comics should help us understand the world we live in more and expose us to alternate viewpoints we may not otherwise consider or understand, and have a little fun on the way.
I’ve always been a Green Lantern fan. I have issues going back to the Green Lantern-Green Arrow days when they were on the road with the “Old Timer”, seeing the world, and showing the Guardian the ups and downs of humanity. My disappointment in the selection of Alan Scott was not because it is Green Lantern, but instead because of the impact this means for one of my favorite characters in the DCU – Jade.
Jade and her brother Obsidian are the children of Alan Scott. Jade was a member of Infinity Inc. and after the Crisis merged all of the universes together ultimately became a close friend of Kyle Rayner (see above). Over time, they grew to date, get engaged, and she even became the first female Green Lantern from Earth. (Not the first to live on Earth, but the first to be from the planet.) Jade died a hero, and her power and spirit flowed into Kyle Rayner, thus giving him the increased power of Ion. Jade was also instrumental by helping her father defeat the Parallax entity during Green Lantern: Rebirth.
Now, this is a strong character in the DCU and the possibility that she could never come to be anymore causes me concern. With the New 52 split, the Green Lantern story arcs somehow remained intact – Blackest Night and Brightest Day still appeared to have happened; we have the spectrum of rings available; and at some point Parallax was defeated. But what about the contributions of Jade and Alan?
As you can tell, I have a fondness for Jenny “Jade” Hayden. She was an extremely strong woman within that universe and by this change to Alan Scott’s orientation DC has almost (but never completely) removed the possibility of her ever being part of it again. Sure, there are ways around it, but why not modify Jay “The Flash” Garrick, who never had children of his own? (I am a Flash fan as well, don’t doubt that…)
Hopefully, James Robinson will do Alan Scott’s new character justice. I am still going to read Earth-2, and I hope he finds a way to make Jenny and her brother, Todd, somehow appear. To deny them existence would be a grave injustice.