04 Jun 2012 08:49 am

Why DC's Green Lantern Decision is All Sound and No Fury

This weekend, multiple people have come up to me and said, "Richard, did you hear Green Lantern is gay?!" My response has always been the same.

"No, not that one."

This seems to be something of a strategy with DC Comics. They take an Obscure Character with a bankable connection to a Popular Character. They reintroduce said Obscure Character in a controversial way, hoping the mainstream media will confuse Obscure Character with Popular Character.

In this case, the relatively Obscure Character is Alan Scott, Green Lantern predecessor to the more popular Hal Jordan, who Ryan Reynolds portrayed in "Green Lantern" last summer. Many DC characters have their roots in the 1940's. In this case, Alan Scott was the first Green Lantern, a superhero with a magic ring introduced in July of 1940, nearly twenty years before Hal Jordan was introduced as a space cop with alien power ring in October, 1959. In an upcoming issue of the new comic "Earth-2", Alan Scott will be revealed to be gay.

For further evidence of this trend, look at Batgirl. You know her as Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Gordon, played by Yvonne Craig in the 60's TV show (and Alicia Silverstone in the trainwreck "Batman and Robin".) In 2006, DC introduced lesbian crime-fighter Kate Kane aka Batwoman, who looks a lot like Batgirl (so much so that Batgirl's sometimes-boyfriend Nightwing hilariously flirts with her in one of her first appearances). The problem is not Batwoman's sexuality, but instead, the near-identical look of the characters, primed to create confusion in the marketplace (and more importantly, the media).

Strangely enough, the Green Lantern reveal is probably the least interesting thing about the "Earth-2" comic book. Alan Scott and the rest of the Justice Society - the first superhero team, dating back to 1940 - used to be a rare example of superheroes who were allowed to grow old, get married, have kids and mentor the next generation of heroes. In this new relaunch, the Justice Society are all back in their 20's and 30's, in an alternate reality ravaged by an alien invasion which claimed the lives of Superman and Wonder Woman. It's certainly an interesting premise - but I'm not sure I like it as much as the multi-generational stories which proceeded it. You can see much of the JSA - a group of superheroes well past their prime - in "Blue Yonder".

A particularly cynical part of me fears the Alan Scott announcement is meant to deflect criticism of "Earth-2". The series is certainly making a lot of far-reaching changes to its characters, and DC has a lot riding on it. The book's writer, James Robinson, is one of my favorites, having written "Starman" - which helped reintroduce the JSA - along with "The Shade", about an immortal anti-hero introduced in "Starman". But he's also written "Cry for Justice", a Justice League mini-series lauded as one of the worst in years. You can't blame fans for being a little unsure which way this story will go.

I can say one thing I am sure of - the best stories happen without press releases and media coverage. They just happen. I am hoping "Earth-2" has a lot of good stories happening in the months that come. And even if they do not, there are still at least 50 other worlds in the DC multiverse we can write about.

(That's all for this week. Check out a new Blue Yonder Wednesday!)

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