It's summer wedding season and Marvel Comics is ready to celebrate!
The publisher announced recently that it will mary two of its gay characters in an upcoming issue of "Astonishing X-Men."
The superhero getting hitched in the comic is Northstar, a member of the X-Men who was once a part of the Canadian team Alpha Flight. Northstar came out as gay way back in the early 1990s, in issue No. 106 of "Alpha Flight." In terms of gay superheroes, Northstar was not only one of the first out characters for Marvel Comics, but for American comics in general. In the coming issue of "Astonishing X-Men," Northstar will marry his longtime beau, Kyle Jinadu.
Alpha Flight is the same team that gave the world Wolverine, but neither Northstar nor Kyle are Wolverine or even Cyclops in terms of name recognition.
Could you imagine that romantic pairing though? Wolverine and Cyclops as a couple? What a relationship they'd have! The passion! The drama! That'd be a bigger pairing for Marvel Comics than Kate Kane and Renee Montoya have long been for DC!
But I digress ... There's so much to talk about this month, Marvel's gay wedding is only the tip of the iceberg!
In the same week that Marvel announced its wedding news, DC Comics said it would be re-introducing one of its characters as gay in the publisher's line of "New 52" comics.
On Friday, DC finally revealed that their new gay character will be Alan Scott - the Golden Age Green Lantern.
I've got to admit some disappointment in the news. Although I knew it would never happen, I was really hoping DC would give us a gay Robin. Specifically, I was secretly hoping for Tim Drake to be the company's new gay character, not Dick Grayson. I know the idea has its complexities, what with Stephanie Brown and Tam Fox. But what a strong character to make gay. And not just any superhero, but a gay teen superhero from the pages of Batman comics!
Currently, Drake leads the new Teen Titans in DC's "New 52," a team which features the character Bunker, a Mexican teenager named Miguel Barragan who can create forcefields - and who is also gay.
But back to Alan Scott.
DC will re-introduce Scott as gay in the June 6 issue of "Earth 2," written and drawn by James Robinson and Nicola Scott.
The character is DC's original Green Lantern, pre-dating Hal Jordan and all the others. He was introduced in comics back in 1940 by artist Martin Nodell and well-known Batman writer Bill Finger. The Golden Age Green Lantern worked as a radio reporter and later became a mogul of sorts, and served as a major member of the Justice Society of America.
By making the character young again, DC realized they would be wiping out Scott's gay son, Obsidian, from continuity.
Robinson told The NY Post recently that "That was the seed that started it."
He ran the idea by his bosses at DC, "who signed off on it without hesitation," he told the paper.
The decision to make Alan Scott gay is going to be an interesting one in terms of stories for DC. The character is a part of the publisher's rebooted "Earth 2" world, where there's no longer any Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman. As it stands, Scott looks to be the most powerful superhero in the new "Earth 2" continuity - a world separate from the one the current Justice League and other characters live.
Robinson's also already announced that Alan Scott won't be the only gay character in the "Earth 2" comic book.
Talking with The Associated Press, Robinson said Alan Scott never comes out as gay.
"He's gay when we see him in issue two," Robinson said. "He's fearless and he's honest to the point where he realized he was gay and he said, 'I'm gay.'"
"It was just meant to be," Robinson continued. "Alan Scott (will be) a gay member of the team, the Justice Society, that I'll be forming in the pages of 'Earth 2.' He's just meant to be part of this big tapestry of characters."
Though Alan Scott and Northstar will be the big names in the news for the next couple of days, they're hardly alone in the world of comic books. As mentioned earlier, the two big publishers have a number of other gay characters in their comics - Batwoman, The Question, Midnighter, Apollo, Wiccan, Hulkling and others.
In Archie Comics, the gay character Kevin Keller was introduced in late 2010. In his debut issue, No. 202, Keller beats Jughead in a burger-eating contest and Veronica quickly falls for the new guy in town - though he's not interested.
Earlier this year, Archie Comics published a wedding issue where Keller, Riverdale's first openly gay character, marries his black boyfriend Clay Walker.
In the comic, Keller is shown as a U.S. military officer. In advance of the story's release, ComicsAlliance reported that the couple met in a military hospital, and that the comic touches on such issues as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Unrelated to Archie Comics, but along a similar theme is Greg Rucka's superb "Batwoman: Elegy" story, which re-tells Kate Kane's origin story and heavily involves "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
The comic's been highly lauded for its story, art and page layout and is truly a masterpiece of recent years. If you're not a regular comic book reader, but are intrigued by the recent announcements by DC and Marvel - I recommend checking out the current line of Batwoman, and in specific the "Elegy" story.
A hardcover collection of "Batwoman: Elegy" was released in June 2010, collecting issues 854 through 860 of "Detective Comics." The story came about during Batman's brief absence from the DC world, which opened up the "Detective Comics" spot for Batwoman to take the lead role.
I know I've rambled on about DC and Archie Comics now, but let's go back to the issue of Northstar getting married in the pages of Marvel Comics.
One thing worth noting is that the same-sex marriage is happening in Marvel's main continuity, not some alternate universe.
"The Marvel Universe has always reflected the world outside your window," Marvel's editor-in-chief told The Associated Press. "We strive to make sure our characters, relationships and stories are grounded in that reality."
Writer Marjorie Liu is the author behind the "Astonishing X-Men" story, and she told The Associated Press that the decision to have the pair marry was appropriate.
"As a writer - and a romance novelist, no less - I've always found it a bit odd when characters in comic books remain in relationship limbo for years at a time."
"Certainly, that happens in real life - some relationships just never grow - but the wonderful thing about stories is that they tend to move readers and characters forward," Liu said, adding that Northstar pops the question in issue No. 50, which is out now.
All I've got to say is good for Marvel Comics. And both DC and Archie Comics. I see no reason not to have two committed characters get married, as in the case of the current Marvel Comics news. I've still got my wedding issue of "Amazing Spider-Man" from way back in the day. Maybe I'll pick up "Astonishing X-Men."
In other news, we've never been so close to Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises."
The days just keep rolling on and in one month's time, it will be the month of the movie's release!
In the meantime, here are a few Batman-related tidbits to keep you tided over:
A near-mint copy of "Batman" No. 1 from the 1940s sold last month for $850,000 - a record for that issue. The sale was a private transaction arranged by Heritage Auctions. The seller had purchased the comic just two years back for the price of $315,000. In issue No. 1 of the series, both the characters of Joker and Catwoman debut.
Warner Bros. and DC Comics have announced a direct-to-DVD animated adaptation of Frank Miller's famous 1986 Batman arc, "The Dark Knight Returns." According to the website Comic Book Resources, Peter "RoboCop" Weller will provide the voice of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Also said to be involved are Ariel Winter (Modern Family) as Robin, Wade Williams (Prison Break) as Two-Face, and Michael McKean as the Joker's psychiatrist, Dr. Wolper. Part one of the the two-part series is slated for release this fall, with the conclusion due out in 2013.
In terms of actual books, run out now and pick up "Batman: Death By Design," a very, very stylistic new graphic novel by Chip Kidd - who characterizes the project as "a Batman film in 1938." Here's more of what he had to say about the comic: "I really very much wanted it to feel like a really good film from the thirties actually, from like the late thirties. And the art direction to the artist, Dave Taylor, was what if Fritz Lang had a big budget to make a Batman film in 1938? What would it look like? We never specifically say what year it is, but it very much meant to feel like it's set back then."
More from me in a month's time.
"Nerding Out With Nick Dean" is a monthly column about comic books, movies and more. It runs the first Sunday of each month.