Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weasel of the Week: Dan DiDio

DC Comics publisher Dan DiDio made an announcement at a recent convention in London, England that has the industry abuzz. Problem is, the speculation over that same announcement could lead to one of the biggest letdowns of all time.

In case you missed it, DiDio dropped a hint that a pre-existing character would "come out of the closet", becoming the most prominent gay character in comics. He didn't say when it would happen, nor who it would be, the latter likely because even he isn't sure about who it'll be. One thing is certain. The announcement served a specific purpose, to gain some mainstream attention, and only because DC is lagging behind when it comes to promoting its gay & lesbian characters.

Consider the following:

Batwoman: Kate Kane was introduced about 4 years ago, and is the first gay heroine to headline her own ongoing series, at least that I know of. I do recall seeing some articles that promoted the book, but the series saw a several months gap between issues 0 & 1 so that it would be included as part of the "New 52" last fall. The fact that Batwoman is linked to one of the company's iconic characters, the Batman, by association, certainly doesn't hurt.

Renee Montoya: Formerly a detective in the Gotham City Police Department, Renee was introduced to fans 20 years ago on Batman: The Animated Series, and later transitioned into the mainstream DC Universe. At one time, it was suggested she harbored a crush on the Dark Knight himself (and what girl wouldn't, really?). In the pages of Gotham Central, Renee was outed as a lesbian, which was strange considering there had been no previous hints in that direction. The outing seemed to come out of left field. These days, Renee has traded her badge for the featureless identity of The Question, having taken over that identity about 4 years ago.

These two examples alone would practically disqualify Batman, who has been the target of gay rumors ever since Dr. Frederick Wertham's infamous Seduction of the Innocent was released in the 50's. Not only that, but there is the small matter of the Caped Crusader getting busy with Catwoman in the pages of her book last fall. Like, don't ya think Batman has more than a little James Bond to him, after all, an attribute passed down to past Robins, such as Dick Grayson (now Nightwing) and Jason Todd (Red Hood)?

Some will suggest it's Wonder Woman only because of the fact the Amazons live by themselves on an island, and that the Amazing Amazon herself was borne out of clay, and not through natural means. If DiDio goes in this direction, there will be a major backlash to be had.

Others will claim it's Superman. To them, I say, stop the freakin' pain! DiDio's recent reboot of the DCU erased the Man of Steel's marriage to reporter Lois Lane, and you'd think they'd be building toward putting them back together as a couple.

Still others think it might be Aquaman. Oh, please.

I just have this gut feeling that it's not going to be truly an "A-list" character. Too much backlash if it's either Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman. No, what I see happening is that it'll be someone who's been under the radar that DC wants to promote and bring up to the "A-list". What gets DiDio the weasel ears is the fact that he's risking being accused of pulling a bait & switch because of this. He's getting people talking, but the con is on the fans for falling for this shell game.

Look, I respect the moves made within the industry to appeal to the gay & lesbian community. Archie Comics introduced a new character, Kevin Keller, a few short months ago, as their first openly gay character. He is the first such male to headline his own monthly book for a major publisher, and, if you read the alternate-future, dual-storyline Life With Archie series, Keller has already had a lasting relationship with his partner. At Marvel, Jean-Paul Baubier, aka Northstar, formerly of the Canadian mutant superteam, Alpha Flight, and currently associated with the X-Men, came out 20 years ago, and Marvel is marking the anniversary with their first same-sex marriage, taking place next month, as reported earlier today on Yahoo!. DC took that bold step 10 years ago with two characters from Wildstorm's The Authority, Apollo & The Midnighter, having tied the knot. Where DiDio is failing is putting the word out there before finalizing what his plans are. A lot can change between now and whenever DiDio makes this move official. Then again, the next time the company decides to do a reboot, it'll negate the "outing" if it doesn't click with readers. In that regard, DiDio should heed the words of George Santayana:

"Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it."

5 years ago, Marvel misfired when they hired Ron Zimmerman, a writer for Howard Stern, to reboot the Rawhide Kid as gay. The subsequent miniseries tanked, only because Zimmerman was clearly doing this for laughs and not taking this seriously at all. Then-editor-in-chief Joe Quesada treated it like it was a major event, because he gained mainstream media attention. Suffice to say, DiDio could end up making the same mistake that Quesada made, and, oh, will he ever regret it if he does!


magicdog said...

There's a reason some comic fans call him, "Dan DiDidiot"!

Personally, this whole event screams "stunt". It's one thing to have had an original character be gay but to suddenly throw this at an existing character that never exhibited such traits smacks of insincerity!

I'm sure it won't be one of the big characters like Batman or Superman, and one source made the hypothesis that it will be GL Kyle Raynor, but who knows.

DC's in big trouble (in part due to the "New 52" relaunch) and IMO, they will ultimately alienate even long time fans with this stunt.

hobbyfan said...

The trend at first Marvel, and now DC as well, is to take advantage of the mainstream attention given to their movies by making shock moves to draw more attention to the books. DiDidiot is taking a page from the Joey Quesadilla playbook, as I said, and, well, it's like throwing bad money on top of bad money.

I'm waiting for the moral zealots to raise their voices.......