<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/Newsarama/>Newsarama Staff</a></i> <p>While there's a <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/same-sex-marriage-in-comic-books.html>compelling argument that in 2012</a> it shouldn't be "news," nevertheless this past weekend's announcement by DC that an "iconic" male character previously portrayed as heterosexual will be revealed to be gay in a comic book going on sale this June has received quite a lot of attention from both fans and multiple media outlets. <p>Clearly a well-timed announcement given the growing national dialogue surrounding gay rights (particularly as it pertains to marriage) and also an attempt to gain media attention for whatever the June title may be, the tease worked. Since the announcement, the online comic book community has been speculating as to the identity of the character fueled by <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/dc-gay-character-male-new-52.html>further clues and qualifications</a> provided by creators like <i>Batman</i> writer Scott Snyder. <p>According to what DiDio and other DC executives, marketing representatives and creators have cagily revealed so far, the character will be apparently be: <p>1) Male <p>2) Previously not seen in The New 52 era of the DC Universe. <p>3) One described as a "iconic," "major" and a "key" DC character. <p>4) Was not gay, or known to be gay, in his pre-New 52 incarnation. <p>Now again while a healthy debate can and should be had as to whether DC's strategy should attract the kind of attention it's successfully receiving, the identity of the character will continue to be a source of conjuncture until he is revealed prompting Newsarama to take a look at 10 characters that, in varying degrees, seem to fit DC's stated criteria. (Also, though all of the characters on this list are superheroes, it's worthwhile to keep in mind that DC typically just uses the word "character" when discussing the situation.) <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p> <p>
<b>Seen Post-New 52?</b>: No, just referred to in the Free Comic Book Day Trinity War tease. <p><b>Major, key and/or iconic?</b>: Arguably. As an early member of the pre-Crisis Justice Society of America and a somewhat recognizable figure, "iconic" wouldn't be too much of a stretch. And as one of the most powerful forces in the DC Universe he can clearly qualify as key and major in an in-story sense. <p>While the Spectre has been portrayed as an omnipotent, mystical, asexual entity over recent decades, his pre-New 52 incarnations did have human hosts. Given that he was established by John Ostrander in the '90s as the physical embodiment of the Wrath of God, revealing the Spectre as the character in question would certainly have the potential to draw further national attention after the June reveal.
<b>Seen Post-New 52?</b>: Not at all for the Knight Family incarnations of the character. <p><b>Major, key and/or iconic?</b>: Frankly, this is probably our most dubious use of the terms, but <i>a</i> Starman has appeared on Justice Society line-ups, Justice League line-ups, and heck, even the Legion of Superheroes. <p>Now, you may say, "But Newsarama, Mikaal Tomas was Starman, and he was gay!" And you would be right. However, while Mikaal has appeared on the fringes of the DCU in <i>Shade</i>, that doesn't preclude Jack Knight, or even his dad Ted Knight from taking this character turn. Still, it would be unlikely since there's already the legacy character with this sexual orientation, and like we said, Starman isn't super iconic.
<b>Seen Post-New 52?</b>: Not at all, but he was mentioned in passing in <b>Red Hood and the Outlaws #1</b> so he at least exists somehow in this world. <P><b>Major, key and/or iconic?</b>: The original, Garth, has been in comics since 1960. He has appeared on multiple animated series, and held his own as a founding member of the original Teen Titans alongside Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl. Later taking the name of Tempest, and playing key roles in several "summer event" comics. <p>With Aquaman's star finally burning bright, it seems like the time is right for his sidekick, Aqualad, to return. Garth, as both Aqualad and Tempest, had a couple of high profile relationships in the old DCU, with Aquagirl and Dolphin, but nothing that any major story hinges on. <p>Garth died late in the old pre-Flashpoint universe, in the <i>Blackest Night</i> event, but with all the other temporal rewrites, there's nothing saying he can't be alive this time around. Of course, DC also introduced a new Aqualad, Jackson Hyde, shortly before the reboot. Maybe they could both join the <b>Aquaman</b> series, possibly as a couple?
<b>"Seen" Post-New 52?</b>: Not yet, but we do know that he's coming, thanks to comments by Jim Lee dating back to last year's Comic-Con. <p><b>"Major," "key" and/or "iconic"?</b>: Well, not Ryan Choi himself the character has only been around since 2006, and was infamously killed off during <i>Brightest Day</i>, but the Atom has been one DC's upper-ish echelon heroes for decades, and a frequent member of the Justice League. <p>Ryan Choi was introduced as the new Atom back in the <i>DCU: Brave New World</i> one-shot, instantly becoming one of the most high-profile Asian-Americans in the DC Universe. After carrying his own series for a while, written by Gail Simone, the character bounced around the DCU a bit before being killed off by Deathstroke; a controversial decision at the time. <p>Last year at Comic-Con in San Diego, <i>Justice League</i> artist and DC co-publisher Jim Lee stated that Ryan Choi would return in The New 52, and with Ray Palmer established as part of S.H.A.D.E. in his civilian identity, Choi is poised to become the New 52's "main" Atom. DC obviously has plans for him and are taking their time in bringing him back so it seems at least possible that he could be the unidentified gay character re-introduced in June. The fact that he doesn't have decades of history also might make him a likely candidate or could potentially work against him; being interpreted as a "safer" choice.
<b>"Seen" Post-New 52?</b>: Nope. <p><b>"Major," "key" and/or "iconic"?</b>: As one of DC's most prominent African-American superheroes, Black Lightning can definitely be seen as "iconic," even though he's never quite been seen at the same level as many of his more famous superhero colleagues. And a kinda sorta version of him, "Black Vulcan," was a big part of <i>Superfriends</i>. <p>Like several of the characters on this list, Black Lightning being gay would seemingly represent a significant shift in the character's previous history, as the pre-New 52 version had an ex-wife and two kids. <p>That said, given what Black Lightning originally represented one of the first African-American superheroes at DC there is some definite symmetry in him being re-introduced as one of their few openly gay superheroes.
<b>Seen Post-New 52?</b>: No, more like vehemently denied. <p><b>Major, key and/or iconic?</b>: He was the Flash for 25 years, after being Kid Flash, a founding member of the Teen Titans, and a key component in every Crisis event DC has held. He was also the Flash on the well-loved <i>Justice League</i> and <i>Justice League Unlimited</i> series and is currently Kid Flash on <i>Young Justice</i>. <p>When Barry Allen died saving the multiverse in <b>Crisis on Infinite Earths</b> his protégé and nephew Wally West, who had been operating as Kid Flash, took on the mantle of Flash, becoming the new fastest man alive. Under the watchful gaze of writers from Mark Waid to Grant Morrison to Geoff Johns, Wally West became an entire generation's <i>only</i> Flash, brought stories of the Speed Force and an epic romance with Linda Park, who eventually became his wife and the mother of his twin children. <p>Wally West is easily the most-requested character who hasn't shown up in The New 52 yet, a staple of convention-goers who are anxious to see the speedster lace up once again. The New 52 currently includes Barry Allen as The Flash and Bart Allen (his grandson from the future, though that's as-yet-undetermined if it is still his origin) as Kid Flash. The only place Wally can be found is as Kid Flash on the animated series <i>Young Justice</i>. <p>Wally's deep connection to Linda was a central point of his character in the old DC Universe. She was his "anchor," his "lightning rod" that brought him back out of the Speed Force when he got too fast and needed to remember who he was. This would certainly be a bit of a strange twist due to that, but it would also fit the bill as a high-profile and iconic character, getting the attention of Wally fans and anyone who has heard of the scarlet speedster.
<b>"Seen" Post-New 52?</b>: Only mentioned, in passing, in <i>Justice League International #1</i>. <p><b>"Major," "key" and/or "iconic"?</b>: Given his long history in comics, his easily identifiable powers and appearances in other media including the <i>The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show</i>, iconic seems apt. "Key" is more of a stretch (ahem), as much of his adventures tend to take place outside of the main action of the DC Universe, though he did have a stint as a <i>JLA</i> member. <p>Plastic Man is a beloved character that's been around since the Golden Age, but for whatever reason, seems to be one that has trouble connecting with audiences on a widespread level, at least compared to DC's top tier of characters. <p>Given that, Plastic Man seems like exactly the kind of character that might benefit from the mainstream media bump that would surely follow whichever character is revealed to have changed sexual orientations whether or not that's DC's logic remains to be seen.
<b>"Seen" Post-New 52?</b>: Billy Batson has been starring in the "Curse of Shazam" back-up stories in <i>Justice League</i>, but he has not yet become the superhero we all know he will be. (But it's obviously only a matter of time.) <p><b>"Major," "key" and/or "iconic"?</b>: Definitely. <p>Just for clarification, "Shazam" refers to the superheroic version of Billy Batson. The character was formerly (and famously) known as Captain Marvel, but DC's sticking with "Shazam" this time around. <p>DC has clearly given a slow-burn re-introduction to Shazam, indicating that it's a priority and something they're looking to handle deliberately also, Geoff Johns, one of their main writers and the company's chief creative officer, is writing his new origin story. <p>Maybe more than any other character on this list, Shazam fits the "iconic" label, as one of the most enduring and recognizable superheroes in comic book history. If Billy Batson is revealed to be gay, he wouldn't be the only young, out superhero in the current DC Universe <i>Teen Titans</i> debuted a new gay character named Bunker last year and it would certainly add a new dimension to the 70-year-old Marvel Family mythos.
<b>Seen Post-New 52?</b>: Jay Garrick appeared in May 2012's <b>Earth-2 #1</b>, but not yet as The Flash. It's the kind of glorious technicality comic book companies love. <p><b>Major, key and/or iconic?</b>: The Golden Age Flash, Garrick inspired the speedsters that would follow in his super speedy footsteps, Barry Allen, Wally West, Bart Allen, and a whole mess of other spin-off characters. While he may not be the Flash most people know, most people do know the Flash. <p>Yeah, we had another Flash on this list already; there just happen to be several of them who haven't been seen in this world yet. Jay Garrick in the pre-<i>Flashpoint</i> DCU was an aging superhero from the golden age of heroics who operated as a mentor and inspiration to the rest of the Flash family, not to mention the junior members of the Justice Society of America. <p>Jay, like many other DC characters, did have a wife in the old DCU, Joan. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that means he <i>has</i> to have one, or a heterosexual relationship at all in this world, though. With a young Jay Garrick, you have a Flash that is taking up the mantle to fill the void left by Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. If Flash, Green Lantern and Atom of this world are going to be the new trinity, having one of them be the new gay character would certainly be the type of high-profile role DC is likely looking for. Also, Jay is officially appearing as The Flash in <b>Earth-2 #2</b>, premiering in June 2012, which fits the bill of what DC has released so far, timeline-wise.
<b>Seen Post-New 52?</b>: Alan Scott appeared in May 2012's <b>Earth-2 #1</b>, but not yet as Green Lantern. It's the kind of glorious technicality comic book companies love. Again. <p><b>Major, key and/or iconic?</b>: Like his speedy counterpart, Alan Scott as Green Lantern isn't who the public knows, they know Hal Jordan. But <i>any</i> Green Lantern could be considered iconic in their own right, and as the very first that appeared in a DC Comic, he certainly fits the bill. <p>Scott's possibility has a lot in common with his fellow former JSAer Jay Garrick. He's being re-introduced as a younger version of the character, stepping in to fill the Trinity's role. But Scott has a couple of other things going for him that make him our most likely candidate. <p>Alan Scott has already been associated with a gay character Obsidian, his son in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, was an out hero with a steady relationship when that world ended. With Obsidian and his sister Jade apparently wiped from existence by the reboot, having Scott act as a "replacement" for his son in this regard would make a certain amount of sense and could placate fans of the younger Scott a bit. <p>Both <a href=http://geek-news.mtv.com/2012/05/22/green-lantern-gay/>MTV Geek</a> and <a href=http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/05/24/will-dcs-original-green-lantern-alan-scott-be-reintroduced-as-a-gay-man/>Bleeding Cool</a> have also run sourced rumors that Alan Scott's Green Lantern is the one, but rumors are called that for a reason. Still, we wouldn't be surprised for Alan to be DC's newest gay superhero.