Kapow … Will Batman become one of DC’s ‘most prominent gay characters’? Photograph: Jerry Robinson/AP
As comic book rivals go to battle over gay superhero plots, it’s Batman’s sexual orientation that has tabloids in a spin.
By David Barnett
Gay is apparently the new black for comics superheroes as rival publishers Marvel and DC duke it out over who’s got the best pink credentials.
First off this week, the Daily Mail got its knickers – worn outside of its trousers, presumably – in a twist over the possibility that one of the superheroes in the DC universe inhabited by Superman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman is going to be unveiled as gay.
Then, yesterday, Marvel shipped editions of its Astonishing X-Men #50 a day early to comic shops so fans could read about Northstar – mainstream comics’ first openly gay character – asking his partner to marry him.
But it’s the two-fisted heroes of DC who have the Mail in a kerfuffle, and the paper even goes as far as to point the finger (without a shred of evidence) at the Dark Knight himself – possibly DC’s most masculine character, ever. While it’s – rightfully – unlikely that any jury these days would accept accusations of homosexuality as defamatory (as they did in the case of Jason Donovan v The Face magazine in 1992), by the same token the goddamn Batman has spare vials of testosterone in his utility belt, just in case his outrageously high levels dip, right next to the shark repellent (not really).
“Is Batman gay?” shrieks the Mail, deftly ignoring the more mature-audience-targeted versions of the character that have graced movie screens and comic books in recent years, in favour of illustrating the story with a shot from the kids’ cartoon Justice League. Who knows? Not the Mail, which says only that DC co-publisher Dan DiDio revealed at the weekend’s London comic convention, Kapow, that “an existing character – who was previously assumed to be straight – will become ‘one of our most prominent gay characters’.”
But the Bat-family has form for this sort of thing, the Mail – almost sadly – acknowledges in its closing paragraph: “Batwoman, a DC favourite, made her comic book comeback as a lesbian in 2006.”