DC revealed this week that its iconic character that would come out as gay was Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern.
Introduced in 1940 in All-American Comics, Alan Scott was a railroad worker who came into possession of an ancient magical green lantern that empowered him the ability to use a ring to fight evil. The ring did have one weakness in that it couldn’t be used against anything made of wood, but otherwise it was all powerful.
Mind you this character was not of the same breed of Green Lantern as Hal Jordan who was introduced in 1959, and the larger canvas of the Green Lantern Corps that came along later.
DC Comics later went on to explain away issues such as this by saying there was a multi-verse of Earths, each with its own set of heroes. While Hal Jordan and his ilk were from the Earth-1 universe, Alan Scott, the Justice Society of America and some versions of Superman & Wonder Woman were actually from Earth-2.
In order to clean up this giant mess of continuity, DC launched a 12-issue series in 1985 called Crisis on Infinite Earths that erased all of the other timelines except Earth-1 and merged them all together. All was well in the land of DC.
Flash forward to 2011, and DC decides to relaunch its entire comic book line in an event called The New 52. As the name would imply, 52 titles were either reset to issue #1, or whole new titles were created. Some characters totally eliminated their histories, while others kept parts of it. To explain how characters such as Alan Scott fit in, the company decided, you guessed it, to bring back the concept of Earth-2. A new title totally devoted to the exploits of this parallel Earth has just launched, and that is where we arrive at this news about Alan Scott being gay.
As all of Earth-2 is being rebooted, gone is Alan Scott’s marriage to his enemy, The Harlequin, and his subsequent two children that resulted from that marriage. At another point in time he had fraternal twins with another enemy of his, Thorn – apparently he had a thing for the bad girls – Jade and Obsidian. Each had their own powers, and Obsidian was gay.
Apparently James Robinson, the writer for the Earth-2 title, decided since Alan Scott was going to be young again, and that meant erasing Obsidian from existence, it only made sense to make Alan Scott gay. He promises that no other aspects of the character have changed.
When I did my rundown of who the gay character might be, I latched on to the “Iconic” portion of the hints, and ran through all of the big names that people are most familiar with. I eliminated Hal Jordan as a possibility, and said of the other Green Lanterns:
Green Lantern (Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner or John Stewart) – Would be viewed as a cop out. ”You made Green Lantern gay!” ”Well, not really …”
While I didn’t mention Alan Scott by name, the same thought applies. All one needs to do is simply look around the Internet at the various news stories that all seem to be running with the headline, “Green Lantern is Gay!” and quite a few of them are mistakenly running pictures of Hal Jordan. E! Online even went with the headline, “Green Lantern Now Gay—Will This End Ryan Reynolds’ Franchise??”. (It should be ended, but for a whole host of other reasons …) While the publication explained why it should have no impact in the fourth paragraph, by then most people with only a mild curiosity will have stopped reading.
Let me make something very clear here: I have zero issues with a comic character being gay. What I have an issue with here is this is a total cop out. DC Comics gets to say “Green Lantern is gay!”, and then they can pull back and go, “But, it isn’t the one you actually care about!” (No offense to fans of Alan Scott) DC has gotten a ton of press out of this, but with no ramifications. If this was done to serve the story, fine, no problem, but don’t make a huge media push out of it. If you were trying to be bold and make a statement, then be bold and make a statement and make it a frontline character.
The Chicago Tribune had one of the best headlines for summing up the issue I’m describing, “Green Lantern outed as gay superhero – sort of.” Need I really say more?
So, no, I am not upset Alan Scott is gay; I couldn’t care less if I tried. What I am upset about is how DC Comics played this. I feel this was a very calculated and manipulative move on its part, and I, for one, would be truly surprised if it does anything to serve the story it is trying to tell. It was a miscalculated publicity stunt that everyone will forget by next week, Alan Scott will fade back into being a character only die-hard comic book fans know anything about, and this will all be resurrected again as there is some confusion should there ever be a Green Lantern 2. Will people be as cautious to delineate the differences then?
I like you DC, but I would have liked you even more had you just gone ahead and made it a first string character and not played these silly games.