Let me give you two story situations. We’ll say that they are two separate comic issues sitting on a shelf waiting for the random reader to find them.
The first one requires a little bit of setup. Take a C-tier hero that has never been prominent, in any kind of major comic. For this hypothetical situation, we’ll say it’s Miguel Santos. You probably aren’t aware of his identity as Living Lightning, nor of his tenure on the West Coast Avengers, the crappy spin-off of the Avengers that eventually became Force Works before being cancelled. Living Lightning occasionally pops up when a whole big group of Avengers come together for something (like Avengers: Disassembled) and maybe one of those crappy little minis to show what various C-tier members are up to.
In one of those minis, some random creator wrote a Living Lightning story in which he and a before unmentioned girlfriend are doing stuff. Then, let’s say that the next time Living Lightning got any kind of prominent story was in a West Coast Avengers reunion mini series in which his girlfriend serves as nothing more than a damsel-in-distress that must be rescued. Those are her only two appearances, and little to no development or character is given to her whatsoever.
That brings us to the first book on the shelf. It’s an issue of one of those Avengers books that Marvel publishes just to get another Avengers book on the shelf that has random characters show up that aren’t really doing anything else (or even if they are, it’s “loosely” in continuity). In this story, Living Lightning gets married to this girlfriend he’s had for three stories now. No one really gives a crap about this book, right? I mean come on – it’s Living Lightning. Nothing’s been done with him forever. The story doesn’t work because it’s not the result of any kind of build. It’s just a wedding for the sake of having a wedding and these two just happen to be a couple.
Now let’s go to the second book on the shelf. It’s called “BIG GAY WEDDING”. There is no point to the book other than to say “Hey, we’re publishing a book in which these GAY people have a GAY wedding for the FIRST TIME EVER! Isn’t this IMPORTANT?” You’d think that it comes off as exploitative, right?
Push those two books together and you get this:
At this point let me say that I am not gay-bashing. If I’m coming across as gay-bashing, I humbly apologize. I have nothing against homosexuals and I am actually in favor of allowing them to marry. So don’t try to call me out on that.
But I don’t like the idea of the Northstar wedding being treated as a big deal because it really isn’t. The only reason Marvel is publishing it is because they want publicity for having the first comic book gay marriage. Well, mainstream, at least. I’m sure there are dozens of indie comics that have had gay weddings.
This story just bothers me. I’m a reader who appreciates the story and the characters within. If there’s going to be a wedding, I feel that it should have been set up well. Take Reed Richards and Sue Storm. Or take Scott Summers and Jean Grey. These are characters who were in the forefront of the scene, building their relationship as a part of the story. Northstar and Kyle were tossed together in an anthology issue as in “Northstar’s got a boyfriend!” and haven’t had any kind of story development since, save for him getting kidnapped in the Alpha Flight mini-series. I don’t even know Kyle’s last name.
Northstar himself isn’t a big character. He’s a member of Alpha Flight, and kudos to the fanbase that still follows Canada’s premiere superhero team. Northstar came to the X via Chuck Austen and that was a bad, bad move. He got killed off, then revived as a villain and eventually Mike Carey used an X-Men Annual to fix him and his sister’s heads and put them back into their default Alpha Flight status. Northstar is Quicksilver who can fly. He has the speed, the silver hair, the snooty attitude, the twin sister attachment. We can see where John Byrne got his inspiration for the character. The point I’m not making here is that Northstar is not a character that has had any kind of prominence, well, ever. Having him get married, especially this quickly? Whatever.
But then there’s DC.
We’re going to pretend that DC’s big announcement of their brand new gay character is not at all in relation to Marvel having its gay wedding. Coincidence, sure. In the event you haven’t heard, DC is reintroducing Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern (or Sentinel if you were into late 90’s DC), into the New 52. And wouldn’t you know it? He’s gay.
And you know what? DC has made pretty much the most brilliant move here by using Alan Scott. Think about it. The casual headline reader probably doesn’t read comics. It’s the type of person that probably still thinks both Superman and Captain America are dead because no one bothered to report that no one stays dead in comics. So to those people not willing to get into the mythos of the multiple Earths and the legends of the Green Lanterns, Green Lantern is gay. Yep, that guy Ryan Reynolds played in that movie last year. He’s gay. That’s a big deal, too. After all, that’s a pretty big super hero – they made a movie about him! And then they flip the page over to find out that Snooki is leaving the Jersey Shore house and there you go.
But to the people who are already familiar with the comic scene, Alan Scott is the safe choice. I’m not familiar with the post-relaunch GL status, but last I checked the two biggest GLs were Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner. Go ahead and toss in Guy Gardner, John Stewart and hell even Killowog. None of those characters, which are still widely used in circulation, are going to be changed. Instead you get Alan Scott, who isn’t even a Green Lantern Corps Green Lantern. It isn’t even on DC’s main Earth – it’s on Earth 2. Now go find me one of DC’s 52 monthly titles that gives me the gay adventures of Earth 2 Alan Scott.
You see? To those who don’t care to know, Green Lantern is gay. That’s ground breaking and gets some publicity tossed towards DC. But in reality, you might as well say a time-lost Snapper Carr is gay for all the difference it makes. And that’s what both of these “huge deals” are to me. Little bits of nothing wrapped in a trending news topic that is just exploiting the issue.
So good for them.