Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On the “outing” of Alan Scott:

 So DC, still trying any gimmick possible to increase sales, has recently announced that they plan to make one of their iconic characters gay. As with most big comic book publicity stunts, I initially didn’t care; it would probably be undone anyway if sales were bad. I also didn’t bother to read any speculation threads on various message boards, since they would probably not involve any intelligent speculation and would likely devolve into the usual tired jokes about men in tights and Batman molesting Robin (People still find this shit funny? It’s 2012 already, jeez!).
 My interest was piqued however, when what is generally considered a reliable source said that the character in question was likely Alan Scott. As most readers of this blog know, Alan is my favorite Green Lantern, the hero who first encountered one of my favorite villains, and my favorite JSA member (barring the Spectre of course). He’s a character defined by his status as a symbol, a beacon of hope, a man who could destroy the whole world if he wanted to (as he showed, unforgettably, in All Star Squadron #20) and who is far from the nicest guy, but who knows he has to set an example for other heroes to follow, to help out the little guy. When Crisis on Infinite Earths happened and there was no longer an Earth 2/ Golden Age Superman to fill the role of the hero that all the rest of the heroes aspire to, he was the only one to foot the bill. He’s sometimes been written as the gruff “old guard” hero who isn’t up to the times, yet he’s remained likeable in spite of it.
 So what are my thoughts if it does indeed to turn out to be Alan Scott? Should I be elated? Offended? Indifferent? Should I just be glad that this is the most exposure Alan Scott has had in years? I’ll talk about that, as well as some of the pros and cons that this could bring.
 Well on one hand, it really, really depends on one thing and one thing alone: execution. As off track as his work has been since the glory days of Starman, I trust in James Robinson enough to know that he won’t make Alan into an offensive stereotype or simply ignore the topic after one issue. Indeed, brief as his appearance was in the mostly mediocre and expository Earth 2 #1, I liked his portrayal of Alan there. If Alan is a great character period, then his sexuality shouldn’t be an issue, and it won’t be with me. Like I said, it’s all in the execution.
 For example, I trust DC to have the maturity to not make Alan gay simply because he had a sidekick with a silly name and (let’s just get this joke out of the way since everyone else has already made it) a weakness against wood.
 There’s also the issue about whether or not the past history of Alan Scott before the reboot should count. There are good arguments both for and against. Before the reboot, Scott had been in multiple relationships with women and had had several children (one of whom, Obsidian, was gay). Even during the 40s he had at least three love interests.
 On the other hand, well, it’s kind of cut and dry that Alan Scott’s past history in comics shouldn’t count, since after all, this is the rebooted DC universe, where everyone’s past history doesn’t count since everything has started anew. At the same time, deciding to make a historically heterosexual character like Alan Scott gay just on a whim could also be seen as a case of desperation, putting a gimmick before characterization, which completely goes against my previous point about making Scott a good character period.
 Also, when you really think about it, wouldn’t a story about Alan Scott coming out be more interesting if it took place before the reboot? Think about it, a legendary hero, who has gone through several marriages and had kids, decides to come out in old age. There is sooo much potential there, even though it creates some problems with how to handle Obsidian.
 But here, with Scott not an established hero, but a rookie, would such a story pack the same dramatic punch it might have had involving an older Scott? Perhaps, if it is handled as part of his “hero’s journey”.
 There’s also the question about just how “daring” it would actually be to make Alan Scott gay. Well, is it? Yes and No.
 The big brouhaha over this whole stunt has been because the character to be “outed” will supposedly be an iconic one. Well, is Alan Scott iconic? To fans like me, yes. But how iconic is he to other fans?
 I’ve talked before about how much modern Green Lantern fans have prided themselves over how much they dislike the human heroes and villains of the franchise and have basically forced DC to make the series into a comic book version of Star Trek/Wars, with all the focus being on intergalactic space wars, different color corps, and spin-offs about the alien lanterns. These people bitch about Hal Jordan and call him a “lame” or “bland and uninteresting character”, and he’s the character whose series introduced the whole concept of the Lantern corps. Look at how much these people bash Hal’s supporting cast and rogues gallery too. Thomas “Pieface” Kalmaku stirs up almost as much racially-charged debate as Ebony White, and Hector Hammond gets mocked as an “insignificant” villain even though he’s been shown to potentially be even more dangerous than Sinestro.
 So as you can imagine, these people who can’t appreciate Hal Jordan probably don’t take kindly to Alan Scott, who isn’t an established member of the corps, has a fat cab driver as a sidekick, and whose rogues gallery includes a woman with oversized glasses, an evil sports star, and some swamp zombie no one likes.
 Alan Scott certainly isn’t iconic to them.
 And that’s just comic book fans, how about the general public?
 Most of the general public couldn’t tell Alan Scott from Guy Gardner, or even know who those characters are. Considering how hilariously bad some news outlets have fucked up details when doing stories about comics, you just know that the story will be reported as “DC makes Green Lantern gay”, or maybe if we’re lucky “DC makes original Green Lantern gay”. To most of the public, they’ll probably think that they are talking about Hal Jordan after seeing the recent Ryan Reynolds movie, and this might end up killing Warner Brother’s already flimsy hope of making a sequel (or reboot) to the 2011 film. For as much as conservatives accuse Hollywood of “pushing a gay agenda”, Hollywood execs would still probably balk at the idea of trying to launch a franchise with a character the public sees as gay.
 And I’m not even going to get into the legion of morons who listen only to what they want to hear who think that Green Lantern is black due to the Justice League cartoon’s use of John Stewart, and that the use of any white Green Lanterns is “racist”. They’ll probably accuse “evil racist DC” of making “a black icon white, and then gay” or some other stupid shit.
  So yes, it’s sort of a mixture of both ‘Yes” and “No”.
 No, it IS NOT too daring for DC to make Alan Scott gay, since most Green Lantern fans don’t care about him or any of the human Green Lanterns. At the same time, it IS potentially daring, because the tabloids don’t care about details like which Green Lantern is which, they’ll just say “Green Lantern is gay now” for a good shock story, which could be potentially damaging for the more conservative demographic (which, according to Scans_Daily, is supposedly the only demographic DC cares about).
 So ultimately, what we have here is a gimmick…which could end up being something more. A cop-out by using a character most modern fans don’t appreciate…that could end up still affecting the whole franchise anyway. A completely different approach to a classic character…that could have been more interesting before the reboot…yet which still could end up making the character more viable than he has been ever before. Nothing is written in stone, hell, it might not even be Alan Scott who is the character in question (which means I’ve wasted an hour writing this). We’ll all just have to wait and see, and hope that something good comes out of it, no matter who the character in question is.
 After all, isn’t wanting something to turn out for the best what we should always hope for?

UPDATE: Yes, turns out it really is Alan Scott.

 So far, it looks pretty good from the preview, although it appears Alan's love interest is going to get killed off for the origin story. Already Scans_Daily and CBR are going on another of their trademark "fridging" bitchfests. I'm still not going to judge the issue until I've read it.

 Also, check out the comments on the USA Today page about the story. Even can't compete with some of this stupidity:

 Hal Jordan and Alan Scott are the same character apparently.

 I can't even tell what this next idiot is trying to say:

Also, DC and Marvel are the same company, apparently:
I hope you do Junior, just so I can see the look on your face when Marvel tells you they don't own Green Lantern.

Spider-Man: A DC character.

 Oh America, never change.

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