The world of comic books is one of the oddest ones I have ever been associated with. You have the big 2 Marvel and DC, then the next level IMAGE, Dark Horse, IDW, and then a lot of smaller vendors as well. Working in the Comic Book Distribution field as well as being a brand manager for many of the vendors has given me a keen perspective on the industry. The one thing that always gets me is how the big 2 act toward each other. I know your whole reason for being is to make money and be the big dog, but when you work with freelancers who freely jump from vendor to vendor you begin to get a little overlap, and much like the film industry where a film is announced by one film company and a similar one is announced shortly after you have to scratch your head and wonder is there enough room for two Snow White movies, or two Comets bent on destroying the Earth movies, or two Mars movies, etc. And in most cases there isn't. You usually have one clear winner and one clear loser. With comics it's a little sketchy who wins or loses when competing ideas with similar ideas are introduced.
One of the worst offenders was way back when I was still working at Diamond with my friend Corey. We were on the same Customer Service team, (West Coast baby!) and our cubes shared a wall. We could talk to each other fairly easily. Anyway. DC decided to make a limited series called Identity Crisis where a villain starts killing the loved ones of super heroes. This villain somehow found out the secret identity of these heroes and was stalking their loved ones. A good idea that unfortunatley had a terrible ending. But I digress. Soon afterwards Marvel came up with an idea called Identity Disk. A limited series where a group of villains were tasked with finding a mythical Computer Disk with every heroes secret identity on it (huh?) and the villains could use it to hunt down the loved ones of heroes. So slightly different story ideas, but similar titles and ideas. Now when Corey and I read the first issue of Identity Disk we had to laugh. You could tell that after DC announced the project someone at Marvel said we need to get on this and hired a writer and told him what he needed to write and to get it done ASAP so they could compete directly with Identity Crisis. Because Identity Disk was basically the story of The movie The Usual Suspects but with 5 super-villains being hired by a mythical crime lord. Corey and I started to call it Identity Usual Suspects, and every issue just fostered that belief. DC won that round.
However DC is also known to do similar things as well. Case in point, Marvel has always had a gay character. A mutant by the name of Northstar. He came out a long time ago and there was a huge media blitz when it happened. But it never really turned into anything, until recently when Marvel announced that Northstar would be getting married. So you have the first Gay Marriage in comic history. So Marvel is doing a huge media blitz. So DC sees all the attention Marvel is getting and DC is trying to diversify their heroes, the big brains decide we need a gay character to. But we need to make an established character gay. To their credit they did introduce a new character who is gay a few months ago, and a few years ago introduced the first Lesbian superhero, but the fact that they needed to change an established characters sexuality raises eyebrows. Now I have no problem with making this character gay, but to me it seemed like they were reacting to the Marvel Gay marriage, since DC has a stable of some Lesbian, Gay, and Bi characters out there, but they are not really established characters. So once this news hit, they got a piece of the spotlight to. So much so that 98 Rock down here in Maryland mentioned it on their morning show. There are a few people who listen to the show and when they heard this they came right to me and told me what they heard. "Dylan, did you know that Green Lantern is gay?" Now being a comic geek I have paraded around work in my Green Lantern t-shirts so they knew I was fan. The only problem was they were thinking it was a different Green Lantern. So I had to put them right...
Back in the 1940s DC comics had a series of comics featuring Super Heroes. Green Lantern was one of those characters. However this Green Lantern was named Alan Scott, he was a rich radio man who one day found a green rock that he fashioned into a ring and soon learned he could control the energy that was emanating from it. It's only weakness was wood. He had a girlfriend who was always in trouble, and he was a part of a team called the Justice Society. Fast forward to the 1960s, Marvel has asserted itself as an upstart young company but releasing very popular comics featuring characters by the name of Spider Man and the Hulk, and The Fantastic Four and the Avengers. DC seeing a surge in the superhero comics decide to dust off some of their old super heroes from the 40s and update them to the present day (which was the 1960s) so they dug into their vaults and created new iterations of Green Lantern and The Flash to name a few. This Green Lantern was Hal Jordan, a womanizing pilot who received a magical ring from a dying alien and became a member of an intergalactic police force. But Alan Scott and the Justice Society had not been forgotten. They started making reapperances in the 1960s comics as well, but from an alternate dimension called Earth 2. So the Green Lanterns teamed up, the Justice League teamed up with the Justice Society and all was good.
The 1980s was a banner year for comics and Marvel was still kicking DC's ass. So DC felt they needed to do something to compete, so they created the 12 issue mini series Crisis on Infinite Earths which basically wiped out 40 years of continuity so that the 1980s comic fans who may not have been buying the older DC comics since their continuity was so old could start fresh. This saw the combining of Earth 1 and Earth 2, so that the Justice Society and Alan Scott fought in WWII, but retired soon afterwards, then the present heroes started appearing and paying homage to them. But their were still fans of the old heroes so they created a Justice Society comic, where we followed the adventures of these older super heroes. Alan Scott was now married with two kids, both of whom had powers. His daughter Jade, and Son Obsidian, who happened to be gay. But then the 2000s rolled in and again Marvel was still beating DC, so last September DC revamped their entire line. The New 52. Which I have written about in previous blogs. When the new 52 was announced the Justice Society and Alan Scott were gone. Hal Jordan Green Lantern had taken the next step and became a live action movie with Ryan Reynolds. However some of the new 52 books floundered after the launch and 5 were cancelled after their 8th issue. So you needed some new blood. A book entitled Earth 2 was introduced and was going to follow the Justice Society back on their Earth 2, but instead of having them be WWII vets, they were going to be young, contemporary heroes on a different Earth. So to spice it up, DC, in response to what I think was the Northstar marriage made Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern gay.
Now with the movie version of Green Lanten, my co-workers believed that was who DC had turned Gay. That was not the case. And I had to give them this history lesson I gave you. To re-iterate I have no problem making him Gay, just as long as it is not a stunt to boost sales or compete with Marvel. I look forward to reading Earth 2 to see what they end up doing with the character.