Superman comes out, as DC Comics ushers in a new Man of Steel

Up, up and out of the closet! New Superman Jonathan Kent – who is the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane – will soon begin a romantic rela...


Up, up and out of the closet!

New Superman Jonathan Kent – who is the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane – will soon begin a romantic relationship with a male friend, DC Comics reported on Monday.

This same-sex relationship is just one of the ways Jonathan Kent, who goes by his name Jon, turns out to be a different Superman than his famous father. Since starting his new series, Superman: Son of Kal-El, in July, Jon has battled climate change-induced wildfires, foiled a high school shootout, and protested the deportation of refugees to Metropolis.

“The idea of ​​replacing Clark Kent with another straight white savior has been a missed opportunity,” said Tom Taylor, who writes the series, in an interview. He said a “new Superman has to have new fights – real world problems – that he can face as one of the most powerful people in the world.”

The release of Superman, perhaps the most archetypal American superhero, is a notable moment even at a time when many comics have embraced diversity and explore pressing social issues. Batman’s sidekick Robin recently acknowledged romantic feelings for a male friend (not Dick Grayson – who was Batman’s partner for over four decades – but Tim Drake, a later replacement; there are several Robins as well as there are several Supermen). And a new Aquaman comic book stars a gay black man who is well positioned to become the title hero.

This is a constant development for an industry that has taken to self-censorship in several ways after “Seduction of the Innocent,” a 1954 book by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, which raised concerns about sex, gore and violence and suggested a link between comic book reading and juvenile delinquency. In one section, Wertham described Batman and Robin as “a wish dream of two gay men living together”.

The book helped inspire Congressional audiences and led to the creation in 1956 of the Comic Book Code Authority, in which the comic book industry sets standards for what comics could represent. The character of Batwoman was introduced that year as a love interest in the Caped Crusader. She finally fell in the dark, but was restarted in 2006. (As part of her new story, she leaves the military because she refuses to lie about being a lesbian.)

One of the first mainstream comics to feature gays or lesbians appeared in 1980. It was not a positive portrayal. In the story, Marvel’s Hulk alter ego Bruce Banner is in a YMCA, where two gay men try to rape him. Things had started to change in 1992, when Northstar, another Marvel hero, came out – an event that was hailed in a editorial in the New York Times. “The mainstream culture will someday make peace with gay Americans,” the editorial said. “When that moment comes, the Northstar reveal will be seen for what it is: a welcome indicator of social change.”

While Superman isn’t the first LGBTQ hero, and won’t be the last, comic book experts have said there is something particularly important about Superman’s release.

“This isn’t Northstar, which your aunt has never heard of,” said Glen Weldon, author of “Superman: The Unauthorized Biography” and co-host of Pop Culture Happy Hour on NPR. “It’s not Hulkling. It’s not Wiccan. It’s not Fire and Ice. It’s not the Tasmanian Devil. It’s Superman. That counts for something – just in terms of visibility, just in terms of fact that it will attract attention. ”

There has been a flashback to the recent evolution traced by the comics. In August, like rumors About Superman’s development began to circulate, a commentator on a website complained that “Marvel and DC have ruined their characters to please the wide-awake crowd, who don’t even buy comics.” But others applauded the news: “It’s nice to see queer superheroes being more mainstream now, I’m very happy to see people like me being the main characters,” one commentator commented. written on another site.

Weldon said changes in the comics may lead to more vibrant storytelling. “Any step that can be taken to make the world on the superhero comics page look more like the outside world is good,” he said. “It gives you access to more varied stories, more interesting stories, more compelling stories, more different ways of telling stories.”

Jonathan Kent took on Superman’s mantle alongside his father this year. The Clark Kent version of Superman was introduced in 1938. He married Lois Lane in 1996. Jonathan was featured in 2015 and – let’s pass up a lot of comic book shenanigans – spent time as a Superboy before being encouraged by his father to be the new Superman.

Jonathan and Jay Nakamura met in an August story during the new Superman’s unsuccessful attempt to establish a secret identity and go to high school. Last month Jay, an aspiring journalist, met Jonathan’s parents and was impressed with Lois Lane.

Jonathan and Jay will share a kiss in a story that will be published next month. This month, readers will find Jay has some special abilities. “Jay might be the only person in Jon’s life that he doesn’t have to protect,” Taylor said. “I wanted to have a truly equal supportive relationship for these two.”

DC editors were already considering similar lines of development for the character and were supportive, he said.

“I’ve always said that everyone needs heroes and that they deserve to see themselves in their heroes,” Taylor said. “For so many people, bringing out the strongest superhero in comics is incredibly powerful.”

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