I followed with interest the coverage surrounding Dan DiDio’s comment at this years Kappow Con that a major DC character would become “…one of our most prominent gay characters.”
“So what?” I thought. Homosexuality in the fiction was no stranger to me and the announcement was a total non-event in my eyes. I don’t care if a characters gay – a good character is a good character. I could think of many gay characters from shows like Buffy, Veronica Mars, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, White Collar, Southland and many more besides that were great characters. And in comics too, such as Secret Six and X-Factor/X-Men.
Ahhhhhh, The X-Men. “Hadn’t Marvel just done some press releases about a gay wedding” I thought to myself. I remembered Shatterstar and Riktor having a relationship in X-Factor, perhaps it was them. I’ve been a bit out of the loop on X-Men but they had a number of gay characters in their canon a few years ago when I was keeping up. Still, while controversial to some in the American climate of right wing puritanical extremism, I felt certain that with it’s history of gay characters Marvel’s gay wedding storyline was an organic one.
Then something else occurred to me. Hadn’t I seen some stuff on Reddit about North Carolina and some legislation effecting gay marriage rights that putting LGBT issues front and centre in the national debate?
Then the penny dropped. Could it be that DiDio was pulling a headline grab?
It certainly felt that way a bit once I thought about it.
The more I dwelled on it the more it seemed so – DiDio wasn’t so much trying to bring DC Comics into a debate and raise awareness for gay rights issues; it felt like he just needed DC in whatever the topic was going on at this time and to steal some gay limelight from rival Marvel. Just a cynical marketing ploy – almost a little opportunistic and exploitative on DiDio’s part.
I could be way off base with this: DiDio could easily have been taking meetings for month’s in DC planning the retconned outing of a prominent DCU character long before gay marriage rights became a hot topic in North Carolina and at Marvel. And he was asked the question in an open Q&A at the con. If that is the case then I’m man enough to say maybe I’m wrong; I just can’t shake the smell of capitalism in the air whenever DiDio opens his mouth. Plus, I blame him entirely for the DC52; a stupid idea in my opinion, again stinking of dollar quantity over artistic quality, which led to the cancellation of my favourite books and retconned some stuff I felt reaaaaaaally strongly about – another blog for another time.
Gail Simone entered the discussion in a Twitter exchange with myself and others on the subject and she is certainly more qualified to comment on the subject than me; an unemployed househusband from merry olde suburban England. Here is what her tweet said;
She is, of course, right. Regardless of my cynical interpretation of DiDio’s statement as bandwagon marketing courting controversy to sell books, a significant character in the DCU does nothing but a good thing for tolerance and the fight against bigotry.
And hey, so what if it was a bit of a deviously opportunist statement to attract some attention and sell more comics – that can only be a good thing for the medium, right? More sales means more readers, and, with themes like homosexuality involved, a more diverse readership. Does the end justify the means? Does it matter if the Dollar Devil gets a little soul? And really, as I said earlier, I couldn’t really care less if a character is gay, as long as they are well written and tell a good story. Y’know; a love story is a love story at the end of the day, a relationship a relationship, regardless of the sex of the protagonists.
So, what do you think? Was DiDio just hijacking news cycles to sell more books and steal focus from his competitor? Is it not the point, and matters not in the grand scheme of things? Does the end justify the means? I’d love to know what you think…