Superman Comes Out, As DC Comics Enters a New Man of Steel

In, over and out of the closet!

The new Superman, Jonathan Kent — the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane — will soon begin a romantic relationship with a male friend, DC Comics announced Monday.

The same-sex relationship is just one way that Jonathan Kent, who goes by John, is proving to be a different Superman than his famous father. Since his new series, Superman: Son of Kal-El, which began in July, John has battled wildfires caused by climate change, foiled a high school shooting and protested the deportation of refugees to Metropolis. has done.

“The idea of ​​replacing Clark Kent with a more straight white savior felt like a missed opportunity,” Tom Taylor, who wrote the series, said in an interview. He said that “a new Superman must have new fights – real world problems – so that he can stand out as one of the most powerful people in the world.”

The coming out of Superman, perhaps the most hardcore American superhero, is also a remarkable moment in an era when many comics have embraced diversity and explored pressing social issues. Batman’s sidekick, Robin, recently confessed to having romantic feelings for a male friend (not Dick Grayson—who was Batman’s partner for four decades—but Tim Drake, a later replacement; there are many Robins as are many Supermans). . And a new Aquaman comic features a gay Black man positioned to be the title hero.

It has been a steady development for an industry that went on to censor in a number of ways after psychiatrist Fredrik Wortham’s 1954 book “Seduction of the Innocent” raised concerns about sex, gore, and violence. A link between and was suggested. Reading comics and juvenile delinquency. In one segment, Wortham describes Batman and Robin as “a wishful dream of two homosexuals living together”.

The book helped inspire congressional hearings and led to the creation in 1956 comics code authority, in which the comics industry set standards for what comics could portray. The character of Batwoman was introduced that year as a love interest for the Caped Crusader. She eventually fell into obscurity, but was rebooted in 2006. (As part of her new story, she leaves the military because she refuses to lie about being gay.)

One of the earliest mainstream comics to feature gays or lesbians appeared in 1980. It was not a positive portrayal. In the story, Bruce Banner, the alter ego of the Marvel Hulk, is at a YMCA, where two gay men try to rape him. Things were beginning to develop until 1992, when Northstar, another Marvel hero, surfaced – an event that was praised Editorial in the New York Times. “Mainstream culture will one day make peace with gay Americans,” the editorial said. “When that time comes, Northstar’s revelation will be seen for what it is: a welcome indicator of social change.”

Although Superman isn’t the first LGBTQ hero, and won’t be the last, comics experts said there was something particularly significant about Superman coming out.

“It’s not Northstar that your aunt’s never heard of,” said Glenn Weldon, author of “Superman: The Unauthorized Biography” and co-host of Pop Culture Happy Hour on NPR, “It’s Not Hulking. It’s Wiccan No. It’s not fire and ice. It’s not Tasmanian Devil. It’s Superman. It counts for something—only in terms of visibility, in terms of the fact that it’s going to get attention.”

There has been some setback to the recent development charted by the comics. in August, as Rumors As Superman development began to circulate, a commenter on a website complained that “Marvel and DC ruin their characters to please the awakened crowd, who don’t even buy the comics.” But others have cheered the news: “It’s good to see that now that queer superheroes are becoming more mainstream, I’m so happy to see people like myself as main characters,” one commenter said. Wrote on another site.

Weldon Says Change in Comics Could Lead to More Live story. “Any step that can be taken to make the world on the superhero comics page look like the world outside it is good,” he said. “It gives you access to more diverse stories, more interesting stories, more compelling stories, more different ways of telling stories.”

Jonathan Kent took over as Superman with his father this year. The Clark Kent version of Superman was introduced in 1938. He married Lois Lane in 1996. Jonathan was introduced in 2015 and — let us spare a lot of comic book shenanigans — spent some time as Superboy before being encouraged by his father to be the new Superman.

Jonathan and Jay Nakamura meet in an August story during the new Superman’s unfortunate attempt to establish a secret identity and attend high school. Last month, Jay, a budding journalist, met with Jonathan’s parents — and was intrigued by Lois Lane.

Jonathan and Jay will share a kiss in a story to be published next month. This month, readers will find out that Jay has special abilities. “Jay may be the only person in John’s life he doesn’t need to protect,” Taylor said. “I wanted to have a really equal, supportive relationship for the two of them.”

He added that DC’s editors were already looking at similar lines of character development and were supportive.

“I’ve always said that everyone needs heroes and they deserve to see themselves in their heroes,” Taylor said. “For so many people, it’s incredibly powerful to have the strongest superheroes unfold in the comics.”

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