Green Lantern is Gay (and Afraid of Wood)

Green Lantern is gay. The original Green Lantern. No, the other original Green Lantern.

DC Comics announced last week that one of its major characters would be relaunched as homosexual. They’ve chosen Green Lantern. The original Green Lantern. No, the other original Green Lantern.

NY Post (“DC Comics Green Lantern relaunched as gay superhero“)

One of DC Comics oldest heroes is super-coming out.

The original Green Lantern – a DC Comics mainstay for the past 70 years – will be revealed to be a gay man in next week’s issue of “Earth 2.”

Alan Scott – formerly a married father of two who first appeared in 1940 – tips readers off to his sexuality early on in the comic when he gives his boyfriend a welcome home kiss.

“He’s very much the character he was. He’s still the pinnacle of bravery and idealism. He’s also gay,” “Earth 2” writer James Robinson told The Post.

The Emerald Guardian’s sexuality was rebooted along with the rest of his fictional universe as part of DC’s “New 52” initiative aimed at rejuvenating their characters.

Robinson said he decided to make the change because making the character young again meant erasing Scott’s gay superhero son out of existence. “The only downside of his being young was we lose his son, Obsidian, who’s gay. So I thought, ‘Why not make Alan Scott gay?'” Robinson recalled. “That was the seed that started it.”

He ran his idea by the bosses at DC, “who signed off on it without hesitation.”

The constant rebooting of the DC and Marvel universes is annoying, in that it destroys the “continuity” that those of us of a certain age are accustomed to. It was a novel thing when DC had its Crisis on Infinite Earths way back in 1985–and arguably necessary, with the company’s flagship heroes having a half century of accumulated baggage. At this point, though, reboots are getting to be old hat.

The Green Lantern character is an interesting choice, in that there have been so many. Like Flash, which kicked off the era, Green Lantern was completely reworked in the Silver Age, with not only a new costume and origin but a different secret identity as well. Additionally, since the modern Green Lantern gets his power from a ring, multiple characters have assumed the identity over the years.

The twist here is that DC is rebooting “Earth 2” (which supposedly went away during the Crisis but came back somewhere along the way)–the alternate reality containing the Golden Age characters. So, it’s Alan Scott, not Hal Jordan or one of the other Green Lantern Corps characters, who’s being rebooted as gay. At least in the Golden Age telling, that character’s vulnerability was to wood rather than the color yellow.

FILED UNDER: Comic Books, Gender Issues, Popular Culture, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Comic Nerd says:

    Just an FYI, the Marvel Universe has never been rebooted. Certain books get relaunched from time-to-time, but the continuity of the character never changes.

  2. al-Ameda says:

    and of course in the movie, Hollywood has the Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds) hooked up with Blake Lively.

  3. Chris Berez says:

    The movie is true to the comics. Hal and Carrol Ferris were a couple for a while. They aren’t anymore, but their hookup wasn’t a Hollywood necessity and has no bearing on Alan being gay rather than Hal. Hal and Carrol’s past relationship and current friendship still has important bearings on the story. The current Green Lantern book, as written by Geoff Johns has way too much continuity and back story for any of the current Earth Green Lanterns (Hal, Kyle, John and Guy) to be rebooted as gay.

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Comic Nerd: It’s been almost 20 years since I regularly read the books but I thought Marvel had a couple of major reboots in the late 1990s. They renumbered the books and then rebooted 18 months later pretending that the previous reboot never happened. Plus, they’ve launched the various spin-off realities, notably the Ultimate series.

    Certainly, despite Marvel’s use of real world characters and cities in a way that DC has generally avoided, Marvel isn’t acting as if Peter Parker is an old man who was in high school in 1963.

  5. @al-Ameda:

    Yes but the Green Lantern in the movies isn’t the same one that is now gay in the comics. If that makes sense.

    I am reminded of a line from one of the Star Trek spinoffs — “Time travel gives me a headache.” Much the same can be said of multiple alternate realities.

  6. James H says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “I hate temporal mechanics.”

    –Miles O’Brien and Miles O’Brien
    “Visionary”
    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

  7. Ben Wolf says:

    Why not Hal Johnson?

  8. Moosebreath says:

    “Green Lantern is Gay (and Afraid of Wood)”

    I’d better self-censor — this is a family blog.

  9. @James H:

    Ah yes, I forgot about that one.

    A quick Google search tells me that my quote was Capt. Janeway, but I can’t track down which Voyager episode it’s from

  10. mattb says:

    @Comic Nerd and @James Joyner:

    Technically, Marvel has never had any universe wide reboots like DC.

    And technically, the first DC Reboot was the introduction of the all new, all different Flash and Green Lantern. The Flash. in particular, started the entire Earth 2 thing in the 60’s. And then the number of Earths the exploded in part due to DC buying up failing comic book companies and then trying to figure out how to introduce those characters into the fold.

    The brilliance of Crisis on Infinite Earths was to solve all of those problems by cutting the
    Gordian Knot and wiping everything out and starting off “fresh.” The trap was making the promise of a single continuity that made sense in a business that’s all about delivering the illusion of change while trying to preserve the childhood loves of a rapidly aging fanboys (and the occasional girl). And so while Crisis was supposed to be a one time thing, DC kept having to fix it with other Crisis.

    With Marvel, a significant number of characters got rebooted (as with the Hero’s in exile project James mentioned), but there was never an attempt to reboot the entire Universe. The closest Marvel has gotten is it’s Ultimate’s Line — which features the Black/Latino Spiderman with special Glenn Beck head exploding powers — but that’s an entirely separate universe a la Earth 2.

    And ironically the promise of the Ultimate universe was to create a new space free of continuity which… wait for it… quickly got sucked into it’s only continuity problems. But on the other hand, established characters like Peter Parker could actually die and stay dead in it.

    (The other purpose of the Ultimates Universe was to help with the development of Marvel’s Movie properties, most importantly the Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury thing)

  11. Gustopher says:

    @Comic Nerd: Marvel tends to do in-continuity reboots, rather than just throwing their hands up in the air and starting over.

    So, rather than just starting fresh to get rid of storylines the current editors dislike, you end up with storylines where Peter Parker makes a deal with the devil where his marriage never happened in exchange for his aunt May living. Terrible, terrible storylines in which the fabric of reality is changed.

    The reboots of DC tend to be cleaner and easier to understand and explain, even if the results are no better. (The current reboot involves everyone having pained wincing expressions on their faces, and showing all their teeth, on every single cover)

    Also, I’m still waiting for DC to unveil which major character is gay. Green Lantern of Earth 2 doesn’t cut it.

  12. R. Dave says:

    James Joyner wrote:I thought Marvel had a couple of major reboots in the late 1990s. They renumbered the books and then rebooted 18 months later pretending that the previous reboot never happened.

    As others have noted, Marvel has never permanently rebooted its entire universe the way DC has. The 90s “reboot” you’re probably thinking of was always intended to be a temporary thing – basically a marketing gimmick – that came about as a result of a major cross-over storyline (Onslaught). As for the Ultimate universe, the 2099 series, etc., those are just alternate realities, not reboots of the “main” reality.

    James Joyner wrote:Certainly, despite Marvel’s use of real world characters and cities in a way that DC has generally avoided, Marvel isn’t acting as if Peter Parker is an old man who was in high school in 1963.

    Marvel was originally a “real-time” universe, such that a year in real life translated into a year in the comics. However, that quickly became untenable, so they switched over to a concept called “floating time”. Essentially, events in the Marvel universe are placed in time relative to each other, not relative to calendar dates or the real-world references that show up in the background. So, even though 13 years of real/calendar time passed between when Peter Parker graduated high school and when he graduated college, those two events were still only 4 years apart in Marvel time.

  13. James Joyner says:

    @R. Dave: That makes some sense, although not from a pure continuity standpoint. Reed Richards served in WWII. Tony Stark in Vietnam, etc.

    Fantastic Four had a thing way back in the late 1970s/very early 1980s where Galactus made them old and the reversal process made them much younger (and, oddly, keep their uniforms identical but reversed the colors). Captain America did something similar, as did Nick Fury (WWII Howling Commandoes sergeant version, not Ultimate black SLJ version).

  14. R. Dave says:

    Yeah, although I prefer Marvel’s floating time to DC’s periodic reboots, it definitely has its own shortcomings. I think Cap is likely the most problematic, since the “mom and apple pie” vision of America he’s supposed to embody really is a 1940s/1950s “Greatest Generation” thing that probably doesn’t resonate with younger people today the way it did for those of us who actually knew the WWII generation.

  15. R. Dave says:

    Whoops, hit post instead of preview there. Anyway, on the continuity point – references to real world events have to be willfully ignored or generalized for the floating timeline to work. Does it matter whether Fury served in WWII specifically or just that he’s a grizzled old war veteran with a tough-guy persona? Does it matter whether Tony Stark created his first armor in a Vietnamese prison camp or in a cave in Afghanistan, or is it enough that the general story arc is the same? That’s why I think Cap is a special problem – because his character is so intimately tied to the real-world era in which he was formed. For most other characters, it’s not such a big deal, but certainly still annoying from the perspective of true continuity.

  16. James H says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The O’Brien line was particularly funny, as it was delivered by two O’Briens in unison. I’d forgotten about the Voyager quote myself … actually, I’d forgotten much of Voyager, to be honest. Never cared for the series.

  17. Robert in SF says:

    Holy crap! A full page of comments, and it’s all about the reboot as a concept and storytelling/marketing/sales tool, and *not* about a major character being gay in a comic book?

    Where are the “conservatives” lashing out at the quick decline of American values and morals? Where are the “religious” xtians pouring their rage and disdain at the capitulation to the pink mafia by bring a gay character forward as a main character, thereby poisoning the future of this country?

    Wow…just wow!

    And only one issue has come out so far of Earth 2, I believe…this GL is coming out/debuting in the 2nd issue this Wednesday….so I look forward to more than just 4 pages of character reveal, and finally seeing how he gets his powers, his costume, how he fits in as a superhero, regardless of his sexuality.

    I told my mom once that one day I hope that a kid can come from school (as a youngster, not college), and express a crush as it were on the new kid at school…and it not being a big deal that it’s someone of the same gender. The crush itself is the story…not the genders…

    So in other words, you have an interesting character without regard to the sexuality of the character. Sure the dynamics are different between same-sex characters than between opposite sex, but that’s also true about the difference between any 2 couples in general…

  18. mattb says:

    @Robert in SF:
    Comics has been handling the “gay” issue for quite a while. And, as with TV and movies, they’ve gone from some pretty cringe worthy stuff (i.e. Bruce Banner almost getting raped at a YMCA in the late 70’s) to ham-handed (Northstar outting himself by screaming that he’s gay in the middle of a battle with a homophobic character… at least I think it was Northstar) to the more nuanced things today.

    Personally, I think this brief cartoon, created by the brilliant Ty Templeton, pretty sums up gay superheros in a post-post-DADT world: The difference between Straight Superman and Gay Superman.

  19. Robert in SF says:

    @mattb: Hi Mattb, et al:

    I was just commenting on the fact that a political blog (?) that the topic of a new gay character in a comic book doesn’t have comments focused on gays in media, but about the comics, their history, markets, etc..

    To contrast, look at the comments on this sci-fi/pop culture board i09 about a similar topic-all the comments are about the political aspects, not the comic aspect…it just threw me a little. It’s sort of apples to pineapples comparison, as their topic was related but definitely political focused…

    http://io9.com/5915222/the-gay-green-lantern-has-won-his-first-battle-against-one-million-moms

    I don’t know if maybe the “conservative” commenter know that most of the other vocal commenter here are gay-neutral to equality-supporting, and feel it’s futile to comment otherwise on the topic, or just don’t care as much anymore, or are changing their perspective some, or what….

    [I hope I didn’t come off as though I was not supportive of this event, or ignorant of the history. I both read comics and am gay, so it’s close to my heart this topic…I just wanted to see if anyone else was as surprised by the comments threads contrast to typical responses.]

  20. mattb says:

    @Robert in SF:

    I don’t know if maybe the “conservative” commenter know that most of the other vocal commenter here are gay-neutral to equality-supporting, and feel it’s futile to comment otherwise on the topic, or just don’t care as much anymore, or are changing their perspective some, or what….

    I think that’s exactly the case. This is a far less general consumption blog that io9. Plus it’s gotten the reputation as having a comments section that is at times hostile to social conservatives.

    I suspect the two things together, plus the opportunity to let our geek flags fly, probably led to the lack of dumb/bigoted comments.