Comic Geeks to the Rescue!

BOOM! POW! BANG! ZONK!

This week things have been blowing up in a major way in the comic book world, and not just on the page. In a rather poetic twist of fate, the comic book community are coming to the rescue in order to protect and show advocacy for gay rights.

Comic Book news doesn’t often get any airplay in the ordinary media, but major news sites such as The Huffington Post and CNN were crawling all over a recent controversial move made by DC Comics to hire Orson Scott Card (the writer of the critically acclaimed  Ender’s Game) to pen the first chapter of a new Superman series.

Just days after announcing its latest anthology, Adventures of Superman, DC faces a growing wave of criticism. Under ordinary circumstances, this kind of crossover wouldn’t be a issue. Writers/Directors such as Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon have crossed over into the world of comic book writing to much excitement and celebration by fans. One would think that an infamous Sci-Fi author such as Card would be a welcome addition to the DC family. If only.

Although Card is best known for his award-winning 1985 novel Ender’s Game, he has become notorious in the world of Geekdom for his outspoken views on homosexuality and his advocacy against gay rights. As a board member of the National Organization for Marriage (a group dedicated to the opposition of same-sex marriage), the author has linked homosexuality to childhood molestation and advocated home-schooling to ensure children “are not propagandized with the ‘normality’ of ‘gay marriage.'”

DC’s announcement that Card would be a contributor to the new Adventures of Superman sparked an almost immediate outcry from the Comic Book Community. This resulted in a leading the gay-rights advocacy initiative All Out to create a petition that demanded the publisher drop the author. It has also resulted in many comic retailers refusing to stock the issue.

As an advocate for gay rights, I applaud the fans for their efforts to boycott the work of such a despicable man.
As an area of pop culture that is so masculine, it’s refreshing to see changes such as this. Comic books have been criticised in the past for offensive representations of homosexuality. The most explicit example was the creation of the Rawhide Kid – a tough, gun-slinging cowboy from the 50s who just happened to be gay. However, despite Marvel Comic’s claims to be challenging stereotypes, they more or less exacerbated them.

The comic book industry have also had a rocky run when it has come to representation of women. In fact, most would call it downright sexist and anti-feminist. This is due not only to the notoriously skimpy costumes of most super heroines, but also the way in which female characters are treated. The most notable negative theme is referred to as the ‘Stuffed in a Fridge’ trope. It was made famous by the website Women in Refrigerators that suggested that Superheroines and the love interests of Superheroes are often subjected to horrific deaths or life derailing tragedies. Notable examples are that of Green Lantern’s girlfriend, who is brutally murdered and stuffed into the fridge for him to find, and Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl) being horrifically shot in the spine by The Joker and was subsequently wheelchair bound for life.

However, things are slowly changing when it comes to equal representation of gender and sexuality in the comic book world. More balanced heroines have emerged over the years, The Green Lantern has been reintroduced by DC as a homosexual character, and the first gay wedding ever shown in a comic was published last year. I hope that I can encourage you all to take the time to sign the aforementioned petition, and if you still have a bit of spare time – use it to read a comic book.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Comic Geeks to the Rescue!

  1. Northstar’s wedding wasn’t the first gay wedding ever shown in a comic. Apollo & The Midnighter got married back in 2002 in issue 29 of The Authority.

    Granted they weren’t “mainstream” characters but they were certainly first.

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