DC Comics has announced that they’ll be making a big revelation about a reintroduced-into-their-current-“New 52”-reboot “iconic” character: that he’ll be gay. The big reveal will come in a storyline in June, per this ABC article.
As the blog DC Women Kicking Ass notes, the announcement’s wording presumably means it’ll be a male character. And since they already have a major Batman character who’s lesbian (Batwoman, including headlining her own comic), I doubt it’ll be another Batman-related character (despite Tim Drake being a prime candidate). I also assume it’ll be an actual good guy (whether a superhero or supporting character), thus ruling out some villain like Black Manta. Finally, “iconic” presumably means it’s someone the general public might actually recognize.
From a business standpoint, DC’s probably seen the media and sales attention Archie’s gotten with its progressive and prominent treatment of Kevin Keller (his own title, One Million Moms’ moronic protest of his wedding issue, etc.). They also surely see the attention Marvel’s gotten with its roster of LGBT characters (Wiccan, Hulkling, Northstar, etc.), including Marvel promoting the wedding next month of Northstar to his boyfriend. Thus, while DC has Batwoman, they haven’t had much else to tout for LGBT visibility (new “Titans” character Bunker doesn’t seem to cut it, and so far I’ve heard no sign of DC’s Tasmanian Devil or Pied Piper in the “New 52”).
So who might the “iconic” character who’s gay be? Since controversy sells (or gets site hits), and since everyone will be suggesting anyone from Captain Carrot to Perry White, I’ll throw in some of my guesses:
- Jimmy Olsen. One of the most prominent of Superman’s supporting cast, Jimmy seems like a prime candidate. Since the Bronze Age, and especially the John Byrne Superman reboot in 1986, Jimmy’s role in Superman stories has been greatly diminished from his Silver Age high (when he carried his own title, “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen”). Lois seems to have taken his place as “Superman’s Pal” (being his wife until the reboot), and DC has seemed unsure what to do with Jimmy in too many stories lately (though he’s gotten a few miniseries/subplots). There’s also that with the diminished role, we haven’t seen Jimmy’s romantic life as often in recent decades; in the Silver and early Bronze Age, Jimmy usually dated Lucy Lane, Lois’ younger sister. Jimmy’s also fairly recognizable by the general public (“the cub reporter”). Still, Jimmy isn’t a superhero (“Elastic Lad” aside), so maybe not as much impact from a marketing standpoint.
- Pete Ross: Clark Kent’s best friend from Smallville, Pete’s also been diminished since the Byrne reboot eliminated Kal-El’s Superboy career (and reduced Smallville’s setting itself to a one-horse town of little importance aside from the Kents, until “Smallville” the TV series came along). Lana’s replaced Pete as teenage Clark’s best friend in post-Crisis stories (even being told Clark’s secret; pre-Crisis, Lana didn’t know, but Pete secretly did), and Pete seems to rarely appear. While Pete has usually married/has a child in the adult Superman setting pre- and post-Crisis, I presume that could be out the window in the “New 52.” Like Jimmy, however, Pete’s not a superhero, and isn’t even as well known to the public as Jimmy is, “Smallville” aside.
- Alan Scott: The original 1940s Green Lantern. In the original pre-“New 52” stories, Alan’s son (the superhero Obsidian) was revealed to be gay. Alan’s also the only Green Lantern of note who seems “expendable,” versus the more prominent Hal, John, or even Kyle. Alan’s son also has no place to fit into the new “Earth 2” reboot thanks to their de-aging the Justice Society characters into twentysomethings (DC’s developed an allergy to “old people” with the “New 52”). Alan seems to be the leading vote among many other fans online, so this one might not be too far off. However, while Alan’s “iconic” as far as comic fans are concerned, the general public doesn’t know him from Alan Keyes. To the public, “Green Lantern” is either Hal (from last year’s movie flop, the “Super Friends,” or the current CGI Green Lantern cartoon) or John (from the “Justice League” cartoon).
- Billy Batson (Captain Marvel). Both characters are iconic, and Billy’s still somewhat familiar to the general public (albeit mistakenly called “Shazam,” to which DC’s trying to rename Billy’s superhero name). Too bad their “New 52” Billy pretty much sucks; “obnoxious brat” should not be remotely the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of young Mr. Batson.
EDIT (5/22/12): Upon further research, the new gay character will supposedly be someone who hasn’t yet been introduced to the New 52 reboot. Since most of the iconic characters have already been re-introduced (including Jimmy, Pete, and Billy), that doesn’t leave many others to choose from. After further research, my guesses if this is true:
- Plastic Man: Still remembered by the general public, thanks to his early 80s cartoon series/cameos here and there in media/his name synonymous with “cool stretching abilities.” The downside: his goofy nature (in post-Golden Age stories) might make Plas unlikely, as DC probably wants someone more serious (and, well, better-looking).
- Aqualad: Far as I can tell (from reading forums, etc.), neither Garth (the original) nor Jackson (the current Aqualad) have been re-introduced yet. While Garth’s dated women in the past, I suppose all bets are off with the reboot. Aqualad also has some vague familiarity to the general public, per parodies of him appearing on “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Barnacle Boy) and Craig Ferguson’s late-night show. Appearances on “Young Justice” (by Jackson) also helps. Aquaman’s also gotten more popular recently. Still, Aqualad (either one) is just a sidekick/teen hero version of the “real” underwater Sea King, who’s happily married to Mera even in the “New 52.” (Oddly, one of the few marriages DC hasn’t broken up…)
- The Atom: Others claim the Atom (either Ryan Choi or Ray Palmer) haven’t re-appeared yet. This one might be the winner, especially the Ryan version (who has less of a history than Ray Palmer). Granted, there’s the issue that the Atom isn’t who I’d call “iconic” (Plas is easily the most recognized out of the three here), though he has appeared in some cartoons since the 60s. Thus, the Atom might be the best chance, especially being more recognized than Doll Man (who’s also been rumored to be gay; not that DC couldn’t have two non-heterosexual “Mighty Mites”…). Still, I’d expect the announcement to have older members of the general public confuse him with Atom Ant (“up and at ’em, Atom Ant!”).