After 72 years of tackling supervillains as a straight man, DC Comics’ original Green Lantern, one of the publisher’s oldest characters, is to be reintroduced as gay.
After DC’s publisher Dan DiDio let slip at a comics convention last week that one of DC’s superheroes was to come out, the comics world has been speculating wildly about which character it would be. Some believed Wonder Woman might have been hiding a secret under her tiara; others pointed at caped crusader Batman, who has long enjoyed a close relationship with his sidekick, Robin. But DC announced that Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern who made his debut in 1940, would be reintroduced as gay next week.
The move follows the wedding of X-Man Northstar to his boyfriend, courtesy of Marvel Comics, this week, and the marriage of Archie Comics’ first gay character, Kevin Keller, to his boyfriend this year. Although DC’s Batwoman was reintroduced as gay in 2006, the Green Lantern will be the publisher’s most prominent homosexual superhero.
The artist Nicola Scott said the brief she was given by DC was very clear. “He needed to be a big, strapping, handsome man that everyone would instinctively follow and love. No short order but right up my alley,” she said. “Alan strikes me as an incredibly open, honest and warm man, a natural leader and absolutely the right choice to be Guardian of the Earth. His sexuality is incidental. Every time I draw him I love him even more.”
Alan Scott was a railway engineer who discovers a magic lantern, turns it into a ring with superpowers and becomes a crime fighter. He also marries — twice — and has children.
The character was rebooted as Hal Jordan, played in a recent film by Ryan Reynolds, in the 1960s. The Alan Scott character has remained a prominent figure, appearing on the Justice Society of America team, although critics might have hoped for a higher-profile hero after DiDio hinted that a main character would be gay.
The same dynamic, heroic guy
He is appearing in DC Comics’ parallel-Earth series, Earth 2, in his original Alan Scott incarnation — with a contemporary update as well as a new sexuality. A preview of the new issue of Earth 2, out next week, shows the Green Lantern embracing his male partner before setting off for a romantic retreat.
The character, said the writer James Robinson, is “still the same dynamic, heroic guy” he always was. “He’s still the head of a media empire like he was in his prior version. Alan’s sexuality is just one facet of him, along with his innate goodness, valour, charisma and skill at leadership.”
The move is likely to enrage conservative elements of American society. This week the Christian mothers’ group One Million Moms launched a letter-writing campaign calling on DC to cancel their plans to introduce a gay mainstream superhero. “This is ridiculous!” they wrote. “Why do adult gay men need comic superheroes as role models? They want to indoctrinate impressionable young minds by placing these gay characters on pedestals in a positive light,” said the group.
Robinson clearly hopes to persuade them otherwise, telling USA Today that “presenting that kind of a heroic role model hopefully will be a good thing and help to show gays in a positive light for people who might be a little more small-minded”.