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Thursday, February 29, 2024

The GLAAD Media Awards: Comics Nominations

The GLAAD Media Awards have been going on for 24 years, and honour comics, TV shows, films, musicals, plays, books, short stories, basically every aspect of media, for their positive and well-written portrayal of LGBT characters.  Obviously I’ll be focusing on the comic nominees, because duh, but if you’re interested you can check out the full list here.   

Over the years, I’ve been consuming a vast amount of all different types of media (translation: I’m lazy) and comics have always seemed to have the best portrayals of LGBT people and couples.  It could be because it is cheaper to produce a comic series than, say, a film, where you still can’t have a black leading man unless it’s Will Smith.  It could be the number of titles- if people don’t buy Batwoman because the title character is a lesbian, DC still has 51 other series they can sell; and if Northstar’s coming out back in 1992 didn’t gel with the fans, it’d be easy to slip him back into the background cast until the decision could be retconned away.  

Or it could just be a liberal conspiracy designed to corrupt our children and lead them down the path to devil worship and free healthcare.  Whatever the reason, the number of gay characters in comics makes me happy and proud that the comics I love so much are showing support for same-sex relationships.

With that, then, I offer a little commentary on this year’s nominees…

 

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Astonishing X-Men (Marjorie Liu; Marvel)

2012 was the year in which Marvel’s first major gay character, Northstar, married his longtime boyfriend Kyle.  For some, seeing the openly gay Northstar taking his boyfriend for romantic flights over the city and getting a candlelit dinner ready at superspeed was tolerable, but the idea of them having some sort of ceremony to celebrate their relationship in front of friends and family was just too much.  Many X-Men fans threatened to boycott not just Astonishing X-Men, but the entire Marvel lineup, which would be shocking if it weren’t so completely hilarious: fans of a comic with a 50-year message about accepting people who are different, declaring that gays have no place in the X-Men.  Yeah, flawless logic there.

 

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Batwoman (W. Haden Blackman & J.H. Williams III; DC)

Batwoman was created in 1956 as a love interest for Batman, in an attempt to squash the rumors that some funny business was going on between the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder.  And by “funny”, I mean “anal”.  The character was so completely abysmal that she was retconned out of existence (the worst possible fate for any comic character) and was re-introduced 50 years later as a lesbian from a wealthy family who became a vigilante after being expelled from the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.  I’m not sure if that’s irony, or just plain funny.  Either way, Batwoman is a rare example of a gay character not only having their own ongoing series, but having that series read by mainstream comic fans, and not just those wanting an LGBT-themed series.  

 

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine (Andrew Chambliss, Scott Allie, Jane Espenson & Drew Z. Greenberg; Dark Horse)

I haven’t read this series, but given the TV show it’s based on, its nomination is hardly a surprise.  Willow is a smart, brave, funny lady who just so happens to be a lesbian, which as far I’m concerned is the best way to write any character- person first, sexuality second.  Despite her long-term relationship with Tara coming to an abrupt end with Tara’s death (a fact which is cited by as “proof” that Joss Whedon is a secret homophobe) she is nonetheless an inspirational character.  The Willow: Wonderland miniseries that accompanies the main Buffy story involves Willow teaming up with a former lover, and going to another dimension to bring magic back to the world, which is just insanely badass.  This series should also get points for Buffy getting an abortion. It’s not an LGBT issue, but it’s a damn ballsy move, Whedon. 

 

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Earth 2 (James Robinson; DC)

Earth 2 did for DC what Astonishing X-Men did for Marvel; by which I mean “reduced certain fans to a spitting, foaming rage”. Fun fact: I was at the New 52 panel at Kapow! when Dan DiDio announced they were making a previously-established heterosexual character switch teams.  I remember it fondly; there was a very British murmur of approval from the audience, and I promptly bet my husband folding money that it would be Black Canary (seriously, pick up Birds of Prey and tell me there’s nothing between her and Starling).  Instead, it was Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern.  

Alan Scott had a completely different origin, costume, weakness and power level to the other Green Lanterns, and in the years leading up to DC’s New 52 reboot, was seen less and less in the JSA series, in favour of newer, shinier heroes like Power Girl and Mr. Terrific.  So DC did the kindest thing they could, and made Alan Scott the Green Lantern of Earth 2, and figured whilst they were making changes, they’d also make him gay, because why not?  This was a really bold move on DC’s part, as not only were the anti-gay squad attacking in full force, but they’d formed an unholy alliance with the anti-change crew.  DC was all out of fucks to give, and Earth 2 went on to be a brilliant series, serving as a sort of cosy retirement home for Golden Age heroes. 

 

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Kevin Keller (Dan Parent; Archie Comics)

I’d always pretty much ignored Archie Comics as just nostalgic holdovers from a simpler time, a time when people really did say “Gee willikers!” as a genuine exclamation of surprise.  I’d assumed it was an American counterpart to Dandy and Beano.  I knew that it was a big deal in my parents’ generation, but I figured that was just because they couldn’t get Amazing Spider-Man or Justice League, and thus didn’t know what good comics were.  It seems I was wrong.


Kevin Keller was the first gay character in Archie Comics (though he appeared in 2010- far too late to cause any major controversy) and in January 2012, married his fiance Clay, beating Astonishing X-Men to the first gay marriage in mainstream comics by a full five months.  It also covered the controversial topic of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” being repealed, as Kevin and Clay met whilst both were serving in the armed forces.  D’aww!  Naturally there was outcry over this as well, mostly sung to the the tune of “Think of the children!”  Because as we all know, children will imitate anything and everything they see in a comic: beating up criminals, making poor costume choices, etc.

 

So those are the nominations.  The results won’t be announced until May, but I gotta say I’m rooting for Earth 2,  although I suspect Kevin Keller will take home the prize.  One thing that baffles me though- why wasn’t Martin Eden’s Spandex nominated?  Was it not gay enough?

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Laura Maier
Laura Maier
At the time of character creation, Laura Maier made the mistake of putting all her points in charm. While this was probably an unwise decision, it's served her well so far. Her power animal is the platypus.

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