Saturday, October 13, 2007

Perry Moore, "Hero" & A Very Telling List

A recent post of Mike's brought Perry Moore to my attention once again - - particularly Mr. Moore's new novel "Hero" and a very telling list he has compiled describing the fate of gay and lesbian superheroes and supervillains in the world of comics.

Mr. Moore writes in his introduction of the list...


"The following list is a catalogue of the treatment of gays in the medium. The goal is to facilitate discussion and awareness, that fans expect and deserve better treatment of lesbian, gay, and transgendered characters. The very fabric of our society is defined by whom we choose to venerate as our heroes. Things are beginning to change, but for every step forward – and there are some very good ones -- the comic book world has taken some giant leaps back. Most gay characters, even in their small numbers, still remain primarily as villains, minor characters, and victims who are tortured, maimed and killed. Is this a fair representation of LGBT characters in the medium? That is left for you to decide. Yes, bad things do happen to all people, gay people included. But are there positive representations of gay characters to counterbalance these negative ones? Who cares about the death of a gay superhero anyway?"


I wanted to pass on the history - - and more often than not the bloody ways these characters were killed off - - of a few of the superheroes and supervillains that Mr. Moore has catalogued (These are his words, not mine)...

NORTHSTAR
"1st gay male hero to come out in the Marvel Comics Universe, thus making him their most prominent gay hero. Between February 16 and March 9, 2005, Northstar is killed in three different realities, during the most prominent of which, the X-Men’s most popular hero, Wolverine (star of the X-Men movies), impales him through the chest with his metal claws. Marvel’s most prominent gay hero is later resurrected as a murderous zombie assassin."



FREEDOM RING
"Hailed by Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada as the new example of Marvel’s open policy toward gays in their books as “the star of Marvel Team-Up.” Quesada went on to say, “We’ve had more gay and lesbian characters appearing in Marvel comics than ever before.” Marvel Team-Up #24, three weeks after Quesada’s comments, features Freedom Ring, his finger sliced off and then graphically killed with 28 spikes impaling him, including one through the groin and protruding from his anus. Series cancelled with issue #25."


MONSIEUR MALLAH & THE BRAIN
"Sadistic supervillains and gay lovers. One is a talking gorilla and the other is a disembodied brain in a jar. They’ve been searching to create a new body for the Brain so he and Monsieur Mallah may consummate their love. Last appeared in DC’s Teen Titans, aimed at teens. No gay heroes in the book, just these gay villains."



MOONDRAGON
"Depowered and maimed lesbian hero. Fitted with a power-inhibiting headband as punishment. Kidnapped and had her ear ripped off by a villain who makes her girlfriend (the new Captain Marvel) deliver the body part to her father as a ransom note. (Marvel’s “Annhiliation” series, summer 2006)."

BLARNEY COCK
"In series “the Boys,” a superhero police force kills hero Blarney Cock, and upon his disembowelment, a gerbil crawls out of his anus. The Boys also blackmail gay heroes with gay sex surveillance photos. (“The Boys,” issue #6)"

SHOUT OUT
"Gay member of superhero group Teenage Kix. Has his thumbs ripped off by superhero police force."


I could go on for quite a long time...

...since those are just six of the first seven characters on Mr. Perry's list... a list of over 60.

This isn't to say that isn't some progress being made to include gay and lesbian characters in comic books - - I personally think that some of the recent issues of THE BOYS are bringing up interesting issues - - but for every Midnighter and Apollo gay couple, there are the acts of violence suffered by those characters.

As Mr. Perry writes about Apollo and Midnighter...

"Thinly veiled gay versions of Superman and Batman. Super-assassin heroes, stars of super group “The Authority.” Book cancelled by parent company Warner Bros for implying Superman and Batman are gay. Book brought back as result of fan-popularity. Apollo attacked and gang-raped by supervillain team. Midnighter has his heart ripped out by supervillain. Couple marries and adopts baby girl and continues to kill threats to our safety in all universes. Midnighter now has his own solo series—without Apollo."

10 comments:

Aaron said...

I don't understand the appeal of comic books anymore. I did when I was a kid. Then I got older and realized--"Oops, I'm not a kid!" And sold them at yard sales. (Although I kept the Peaches & Herb albums--a fag's gotta have SOME souvenirs, for the Lord's sakes!)

I'm sure I'm wrong about this, but it seems to me that comic books these days appeal to misogynistic, homophobic, immature men who still wipe their boogers on their jeans.

Help me out on this one--I'm really trying to find the silver lining here...

Aaron said...

After my initial post, I looked again more closely at the illustrations in your entry. They really ARE beautifully drawn, even aside from the characters themselves. But Marvel comics (the "marvel" to me is that people keep buying this shit) continues to treat us like second-class citizens, or worse, so the hell with 'em.

Polt said...

I JUST picked up Hero last night! can't wait to start reading it.

I think that list, though, is a bit biased. I mean, let's take a list of black heroes and find how many were killed or depowered, or turned evil or what have you. And then, how about we take women characters see how many of those things happened to them.

i'm not denying gays and lesbians in comics are underrepresented and such, but really, I think he's overreacting and taking things out of context.

HUGS...

Stephen Rader said...

Aaron - For some reason, I have always been attracted to comic books. Before I learned to read, my mother would go panel to panel and tell me what each word balloon and thought bubble said.

When I got a little older, I would fantasize about having superpowers - - superpowers where mental ability won out over physical strength. It was my way of fighting back against all of the bullies who called me a fag... even if my "fighting back" was only in my mind.

Comics, to me, are modern myths. We may not talk about the gods of Mount Olympus as often as we did 100 or 200 years ago when we describe our everyday battles in life, but we do talk about the members of the Justice League. Those characters, their symbols, their powers and their weaknesses make their way into everyday conversation.

And when I read them, a little part of me gets to BE them - - the World's Greatest Detective or the Fastest Man Alive - - and for a little while, a small part of me shares a little bit of their power. That's why I like comic books.

And the whole "guys with big muscles in tights" thing doesn't hurt either. :)

Polk - I agree, the list is somewhat skewed. And there actually is a list of female superheroes and how they have been treated. But since there are so few gay and lesbian characters, it's interesting to me how unevenly they're treated.

When my favorite former member of INFINITY, INC. - - Obsidian - - comes out of the closet and then is relegated to one-panel every 5 issues in THE JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA in his role as JSA night watchmen (or some such bullshit), it doesn't sit right with me.

HERO is the next novel I'm picking up to read! I can't wait! Let me know how you like it!

RAD Homo said...

So Cool!! Love it!!! I need to get this... Whats not to like!

Stephen Rader said...

Rad Homo - I agree! I can't wait to read HERO!!

roborange said...

What a great post. I will have to make it my own eventually and link you. I think I found you by way of Rad Ass Homo. I will check back on you again.

Take care,
RobOrange

Stephen Rader said...

Roborange - Thank you! And I LOVE your blog! Really wonderful!!

Perry said...

Hi all,
I love this site. Feel free to write me and improve the list. Of course it was slanted. My point was to show how a story about a superhero who happens to be gay should be told. Hope I accomplished that to some degree with HERO.
For the rest of the comics, they all pretty much suck anyway. One crossover event after the other, no respect given to gay male characters, what's to love?
So HERO burned a hole out of me, simply because the story didn't exist.
Glad there's a site where intelligent people actually discuss things like this. I do believe they matter.
And with rare wonderful exceptions, like Gail Simone, the comics industry is in drastic need of radical overhaul. From the people I've met, by and large, it's all balding, middle aged, straight, scary people who could care less about gay people...or gay fans. But watch them do their little token parts to get better. "Oh look, so and so team has a gay couple now." Written of course my one of the many straight megolamaniac comic writers.
Really, I'm happy to tell you all about my meetings with these people. Feel free to write me at perrymoorestories.com Like I said, with rare exception--like Gail Simone--the whole industry demands a major revamp, or prepare yourself for a life of mediocre comic books.

I have a lot of faith in Rich Ross at Disney to make some of those good changes at Marvel. If you write me, I'll tell you why.

Call me an optimist, but I believe there's a HERO in all of us.

And most of all, thank you to those who read HERO. Comic book fans can of course be snarky, but the young adult readers who have written to me (I'm up to four thousand letters now, and I try to write each one back, which may explain my tardiness on turning in the next book) -- well these young people have such a craving for material like HERO.

Makes all the other stuff just fade away when you focus on the positive impact HERO has on these young future-heroes' lives.

Thanks for letting me go on. Please write! Would love to hear from you.

Best wishes to all,
Perry Moore
perrymoorestories@gmail.com

Perry said...

Hi all,
I love this site. Feel free to write me and improve the list. Of course it was slanted. My point was to show how a story about a superhero who happens to be gay should be told. Hope I accomplished that to some degree with HERO.
For the rest of the comics, they all pretty much suck anyway. One crossover event after the other, no respect given to gay male characters, what's to love?
So HERO burned a hole out of me, simply because the story didn't exist.
Glad there's a site where intelligent people actually discuss things like this. I do believe they matter.
And with rare wonderful exceptions, like Gail Simone, the comics industry is in drastic need of radical overhaul. From the people I've met, by and large, it's all balding, middle aged, straight, scary people who could care less about gay people...or gay fans. But watch them do their little token parts to get better. "Oh look, so and so team has a gay couple now." Written of course my one of the many straight megolamaniac comic writers.
Really, I'm happy to tell you all about my meetings with these people. Feel free to write me at perrymoorestories.com Like I said, with rare exception--like Gail Simone--the whole industry demands a major revamp, or prepare yourself for a life of mediocre comic books.

I have a lot of faith in Rich Ross at Disney to make some of those good changes at Marvel. If you write me, I'll tell you why.

Call me an optimist, but I believe there's a HERO in all of us.

And most of all, thank you to those who read HERO. Comic book fans can of course be snarky, but the young adult readers who have written to me (I'm up to four thousand letters now, and I try to write each one back, which may explain my tardiness on turning in the next book) -- well these young people have such a craving for material like HERO.

Makes all the other stuff just fade away when you focus on the positive impact HERO has on these young future-heroes' lives.

Thanks for letting me go on. Please write! Would love to hear from you.

Best wishes to all,
Perry Moore
perrymoorestories@gmail.com