A student of mythology, I have long been fascinated by how American superheroes have much in common with the heroes of ancient Greece–indeed of the heroes of other cultures as well.* Like most of their Hellenic counterparts, the “big” three comic book legends, Superman, Batman and Spider-man, were all raised by surrogate parents.
And the similarities don’t end there. All have the capacity for superhuman feats of strength, Heracles a bit like Superman and Perseus like Batman in his ability to use technology to outwit diabolical villains, er, supernatural beasts. In some ways, a Mesopotamian hero, Gilgamesh, is like Batman, achieving his greatest deed (slaying Humbaba) as part of a dynamic duo, but with the former wildman Enkidu instead of with the former acrobat.
As many have speculated about Batman and Robin enjoying a “special” relationship, so too have scholars considered the homosexual aspects of Gilgamesh’s friendship with Enkidu.
There are similarly ambiguous relationships with the Greeks. To be sure, most of their heroes have strong, often defining relationships with women. Perseus seems truly to care for Andromeda. Theseus has several relationships with women, first, Ariadne, then Hippolyta and finally Phaedra. That said, though Heracles had many wives, he failed to return to the Argo when accompanying Jason on his quest because Hylas, the young man for whom he had taken a fancy, had disappeared.
In short, while most of the male heroes definitely preferred the ladies, some did take an interest in men. With that in mind, I’ve been following the reports about a DC comic book hero coming out. And today, we learn it will be Green Lantern:
The original Green Lantern – a DC Comics mainstay for the past 70 years – will be revealed to be a gay man in next week’s issue of “Earth 2.”
Alan Scott – formerly a married father of two who first appeared in 1940 – tips readers off to his sexuality early on in the comic when he gives his boyfriend a welcome home kiss.
Nice. It’s a good idea to have such a superhero, particularly given our changing understanding of sexuality.
In the ancient world, however, they may not have had a gay hero per se perhaps because they had different notions of sexuality than we do today.
*To note, my first post on this new platform — since we moved away from Blogspot was a reflection on Spider-man 2.
FROM THE COMMENTS: Stone K. offers why he doesn’t think this was a bold, er, brave move:
Lets face it, they needed a headline, they got it. They needed to make people take notice, they wanted to get attention. So what do they do? Do they make one of their two biggest money makers (Batman or Superman) gay? There by chilling their financial future with the movies and TV franchises?
Or do they take a character not many think of when it comes to top tier heroes (the movie showed that to be the case) and make some headlines for a few days?
The day I heard the announcement the plans were to make a character gay I said “it will be Green Lantern, because he is the safe choice.” I was right.
If they wanted to do something brave they would have made Robin gay and had a sub plot where he has to restrain his feelings for Batman (who is straight), and that’s why he is always so damn moody. lol
At the end of the day it is just a publicity stunt and it ultimately will not change the fate of DC being a lower rung Comic brand with only one true Hit.
Emphasis added. I hope he’s not right — and will address this issue in a followup post. If it’s just a publicity stunt, they won’t be able to make this much of a gay myth for our time.