ALAN SCOTT is Gay; Other Gender, Race Changes Coming to DC
Friday, DC Entertainment announced that the formerly straight male character who will now be portrayed as gay in one of its new comics is Alan Scott, the solo Green Lantern of Earth 2. But that's just the start.
Readers can expect to see race and gender changes as well, as established DC characters are rebooted over coming months.
The changes to Alan Scott and other characters on Earth 2 come as the result of DC's reboot of their entire comic book universe, which began last September when every comic in the publisher's line-up was restarted at #1. New, younger versions of heroes like Superman and Batman were introduced, along with an entire universe of DC's characters in new, modern interpretations.
Before the reboot, Alan Scott was the very first Green Lantern, introduced during the so-called "Golden Age" of comic books in the 1940's. In recent comic books featuring Alan Scott, the character had aged and had two grown children, one of whom was gay.
But that all changed with the reboot, when Golden Age characters and their lineage were mostly eliminated in favor of more modern heroes.
Earth 2, the monthly comic that started in May, is starting to bring some of those Golden Age characters back by reinterpreting them as young, new heroes on an alternate earth. That includes the former straight Alan Scott becoming a young, good-looking gay version for the new comic.
"Before starting work on [Earth 2] #1, the first document I had to work from was the character breakdowns for our primary players," artist Scott explained. "With Alan, the brief was very clear. He needed to be a big, strapping, handsome man that everyone would instinctively follow and love. No short order but right up my ally. Alan strikes me as an incredibly open, honest and warm man, a natural leader and absolutely the right choice to be guardian of the earth. His sexuality is incidental. Every time I draw him I love him even more."
The debut of Alan Scott as a gay hero in Earth 2 won't be the first time Robinson has been the writer behind the introduction of a gay character in a comic. Just last year, Robinson made news among comic book readers when he introduced the first same-sex relationship for a male hero in the JLA. Previously, he'd portrayed the first gay male couple kiss in mainstream comics, in Starman #45.
Robinson, a British writer who now resides in San Francisco, talked to Newsarama about his motivation for changing Alan Scott and other heroes of the DCU to make them more diverse.
Newsarama: James, we've been told that DC has been making an effort to bring diversity into the DCU. Was this something you were asked to do by editors? Or was it something you came up with as you were creating the comic?
James Robinson: It was the latter. It was something I came up with when I was first putting this modern version of Justice Society together about eight months ago.
I really believe in this idea of relaunching the Justice Society and making them younger. But I thought it was a shame that we lost Jade and Obsidian, who are Alan Scott's children. Obsidian has been in the comics for years and was a positive gay character.
I can't speak for him, honestly, but if he's anything like me, he's a little bit surprised that the media and people have been so interested in it. Although I guess it's really great that the book's getting attention because of it.
Nrama: So the reason you decided to change Alan Scott this way was because he was Obsidian's father? Because you could have added a new character to make up for that loss of diversity, but you specifically chose to change one that already existed, and you're getting a lot of attention as a result. This wasn't for the attention? Are you saying it was all linked to Obsidian?
Robinson: Well, it isn't linked in any way that you're going to see. It was just my thought process at the time. I just thought, "Oh, well, there's no Obsidian in the DC Universe anymore. So we lost a gay character. That's a shame." And then from there I landed upon Alan Scott.
As for why not just create a new gay character, I just wanted to do this. I mean, it's one thing if you're creating a new team with new characters, but that isn't what the Justice Society is. It's me rebooting existing characters.
I think you have to remember that this is a reboot. It isn't like I'm taking an old character and suddenly making this character gay. This is a brand new interpretation of this character.
Alan Scott is my favorite Golden Age character. So I'm very protective of him, and I'm very reverent of him. And you'll see the character that he is, in terms of his heroism, his goodness, his leadership, his dynamic, his Type A personality.
All I'm doing is going back to how Alan Scott was when he was a young man in the Golden Age. He started off as an engineer, admittedly, in his origin, but very quickly, they made him radio broadcaster, and he was chairman of the radio station, and then he owned the station. And then with television, he got involved in television. So I'm just updating the forms of news and communication in which he's a mogul.
But it's just a modern version of the way Alan Scott always was, and the many fantastic facets of him as a person and as a superhero.
For me, the gay part is just one tiny part of who he is as a person. And I think fans will see that the more they see the character, and they won't see that he's a "gay character." He's the Alan Scott he's always been.
Nrama: So this isn't going to be a huge headline on the cover, or something that's shouted out as the key thing about him?
Robinson: No. I mean, what you're going to see in issue #2, is that yes, most obviously, he's gay. You'll know it.
And I should also stress that, he had no ring, but the green flame, which is the energy of the earth, he is the receptacle and the conduit for that energy. He is literally a living Green Lantern. He's the Green Lantern.
Nrama: You said this change to the character will be obvious when we read issue #2. How do readers find out? Does he have a same-sex partner? Or does he say it in his thoughts?
Robinson: Yeah, he has a partner that you'll see in issue #2. Yes.
Nrama: You mentioned earlier that you were a bit surprised by the reaction of the media and people. But this isn't the first time you've done something like this. We just spoke last year about your introduction of a superhero on the Justice League who had a same-sex relationship.
Robinson: I was the first person who had a gay kiss in a comic book back in 1998, so I've been doing this sort of thing for a long time. And Northstar, with Marvel, has been out for 25 years. He's getting married now, but he's not suddenly gay either.
So for me, it's just society. I have gay friends, and it's just part of life. You have to accept it and live with the times. Anybody that's shocked or resistant has to realize that tolerance and equality is a good thing and the way the world is moving. I think that if people are more aware of it now, maybe that's a good thing too. Maybe as opposed to, like, things being pushed to the sidelines of comic books or TV or what have you. Having, you know, main characters being gay is a positive step and it means that more people will be less stigmatized and they'll just realize that it isn't a big deal once you get used to the concept, you know?
Nrama: But James, with your inclusion of a same-sex kiss and other same-sex relationships in your comics, including this one, it does beg the question, why is this so important to you as a writer?
Robinson: I don't know. I mean, I'm not gay at all. I just feel that it's realistic. It just makes sense. You know, I don't have an agenda where I like, I'll go and have gay characters or what have you. But at the same time, why not? Why can't a character be gay? You know. Bare in mind, my life, I've grown up, I've always had gay friends. I've always, you know, it's such a small aspect of who a person is, I literally don't care.
I mean, I can't speak for Dan DiDio, but he went off and -- it wasn't like he made a big, trumpeting announcement. He made an off-hand comment at a panel in London. And the fact that it's gotten all this attention, I'm honestly a little surprised by it.
But ultimately, I think, if it draws attention to, you know, the fact that Alan Scott is this cool, heroic guy that would risk his life for the world and for his people, and is the kind of guy that if you had to give one person superpowers, it would be Alan Scott. And the fact that he happens to be gay as well, if it draws attention to the fact that he's this great person and that gay people are great people. You know, if people are scared of gay characters or gay people in reality, just move with the times, man, and just realize that we all have to live together and you know, if you're religious and you believe in God, God believes in tolerance and love, not in hate and bigotry.
Nrama: Will we see more diversity in Earth 2, and changes like this from the way these characters were before the reboot?
Robinson: Yeah, racially and everything like that. Absolutely we will. I would have done that if the Justice Society was set on [the main DCU Earth]. That's just the kind of characters I like to come up with.
Nrama: I know it's mostly dealing with reinterpretations of the old JSA. And that was, in general, a white, straight, male team, right?
Robinson: Yes, but obviously you move with the times. Obsidian in Infinity Inc. and the Justice Society proper has been gay for a long time. So it's been going on for a long time. And it made sense for this character.
Nrama: But the original team, or the very early JSA characters, will we see more of them either changing race or gender to make a more diverse team?
Robinson: Well, I don't want to give too much away, because I haven't introduced these characters yet, but you will see a little bit more racial diversity and you'll definitely see a few changes of gender. Absolutely.
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