ComicsAlliance’s Betting Odds on DC’s Next Gay Character
It’s been a big week for gay super-heroes. Not only has Marvel’s Northstar proposed to his boyfriend in Astonishing X-Men with a wedding set for next month, but DC has started dropping hints that one of their own characters is going to be coming out of the closet in a forthcoming announcement — and that has kicked off speculation on just who it might be. So if you’re in the mood to place a bet, you’re in luck. Today, we’re here to bring you the official betting odds on ten likely candidates for DC’s next gay character!Chris Sims: All right, Matt. Before we get into laying odds on who it might be, let’s take a few minutes to talk about who it’s not. As much as it might grab worldwide headlines, there’s no way that DC’s going to be outing Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman anytime soon.
Matt Wilson: Right. They might be cool with killing them, but changing the sexual orientations of the big three is probably too big a step. From the DC press we’ve seen so far, the character who’s coming out 1) is male, 2) is “iconic” and 3) has not shown up in the New 52 reboot of the DC Comics superhero line. Scott Snyder confirmed that last bit in noting that it’s definitely not Bruce Wayne. It’s actually pretty hard to reconcile all three of those criteria, since every DC character I’d actually call iconic has been part of the New 52, since the get-go, but I guess “iconic” is a word with something of a floating definition.
Chris: I think we can assume that it might just mean “known to the public at large,” which might just end up being anyone who was ever on Justice League Unlimited. But with that criteria in mind, we’ve made a list of possible suspects.
Matt: A Latino superhero and former member of Justice League Detroit, Vibe hasn’t shown up in the New 52 yet, and apparently Geoff Johns says he’s about to show up in the next Justice League arc. So he’s a good bet. “Iconic” is a pretty big stretch, though.
Chris: True, but he has been a Justice Leaguer and he’s appeared on multiple mass-media projects, including Justice League Unlimited and the Crisis On Two Earths movie. Plus, he recently made an appearance in one of the DC Nation shorts, which was pretty surprising. It could be that DC’s banking on making him a more prominent character.
Matt: As a Latino character, he’d also knock out two diversity birds with one stone, so to speak. And, if handled well, a story about a gay character finding comfort in a gang that accepts him could be really good.
Chris: Right. It sounds like a joke when you first hear it — and I’m not going to lie, the potential is there — but it could really lead to some genuinely complex internal conflict for his character. And if DC wants to keep up with Marvel (who are publishing Northstar’s interracial, same-sex marriage) and Archie (who published the interracial gay marriage of a soldier and gave Kevin Keller his own ongoing series), then doubling up on those diversity birds might be part of the plan.
Matt: The big thing I think Vibe’s got going against him, other than questionable icon status, is his name. A lot of people will see that the new gay character is called Vibe and… take it the wrong way.
Chris: Yeah. Plus, while “DC Brings Justice Leaguer Out of the Closet” might make a nice headline and while he he’s been surprisingly prominent in other projects, that’s not really saying much. Any appearance by Vibe outside of comics is surprising — and most of the ones in comics are, too. Those potentially hypothetical readers who were brought in by the New 52 will have no idea who this guy is or what his significance might be, and the ones who do know are likely to just roll their eyes. Even so, I think he’s a pretty safe bet.
Odds: 1 to 1.
Former Flash Wally West.
Chris: This was your suggestion, and I think you might’ve hit on it. Wally West was one of DC’s most prominent and successful characters during his 20-year tenure as the Flash, with a 30-year history before that in big titles like Teen Titans when he was Barry Allen’s sidekick. Plus, he’s one of the characters on the Young Justice cartoon. Of the characters we haven’t seen yet, it does’t get much more “Iconic” than that.
Matt: Yeah, I think he fits that bill better than pretty much anyone who hasn’t appeared in the New 52 yet, and I’ve read that the writers of The Flash comic have plans for him. For a lot of people, he’s their Flash.
Chris: It might help take the edge off of Barry Allen’s reputation as a boring old man to have him accepting and mentoring a sidekick who was gay, too. At the very least, it’d make him seem a little more modern, especially if they kept the old idea of Wally not getting along with his dad, and put his homosexuality at the root of it. Plus, Tumblr would literally explode.
Matt: No joke. But I’m not sure how that would work. I’d assume Wally would enter the DCU as an adult; it’d be tough to make him Barry’s sidekick in any believable way. But I think the strongest argument against Wally would be the fan backlash to booting Wally’s pre-New 52 wife Linda Park, along with their kids. Of course, there’s no reason Linda couldn’t become Lyndon, as someone on Twitter noted.
Chris: That would be my chief argument against it: Even before Mark Waid spent about ten years making Wally and Linda’s relationship one of the strongest arguments against “married super-heroes don’t have drama,” Wally was always characterized as being pretty specifically into ladies. That whole era of Mike Baron and William Messner-Loebs was all wrapped up in Wally stealing super-villains’ girlfriends and so on. I’m not saying it’s a necessary aspect of his character, but it’s something that was definitely part of him. Of course, Superman didn’t used to kick Parademons’ heads off either.
Matt: Wally was a player. He could still be a player.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, it would be kind of nice to see a gay character who was just as flirty as his heterosexual counterparts, without it being a thing. But there’s also the idea that DC may not want to deal with the backlash of going with a character that’s so prominent on a kids’ show, though.
Odds: 2 to 1.
Matt: The fourth character to bear the mantle of The Atom, Ryan Choi’s been mentioned in Justice League — he helped build Cyborg’s armor — but we haven’t seen him yet. In his short time as The Atom, he cemented himself as just as important as the original Atom, Ray Palmer. “Iconic” fits.
Chris: I’m surprised we haven’t seen him already, to be honest. We’ve got Ray Palmer shrinking stuff down in the pages of Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., but not acting as a super-hero under the name “the Atom.” Reintroducing Choi could let DC have their cake (bring back a fan-favorite legacy character that kids were introduced to on Batman: Brave and the Bold) and eat it too (keep Ray Palmer around in a different role instead of just having his wife go crazy and murder a pregnant woman with a flamethrower).
Matt: It’s one thing he’s got over Wally. West can’t be the title character in The Flash because DC’s current editorial leadership loves Barry too much, but Choi could be The Atom in an Atom title. And people love him. The online reaction to his death before the reboot was pretty pretty pretty not good.
Chris: Given the short-lived nature of his series, he doesn’t have a lot of baggage that would make fans attached to the idea of him not being gay, either. I mean, he had a girlfriend in All-New Atom, but he doesn’t have a 60 years of pining over Lois Lane.
Matt: I do think it’s interesting that two of our top picks are legacy characters here. On the one hand, Wally and Ryan are great characters with lots of fans, but it seems to give DC kind of an easy out when there are other characters running around that could take up their mantles any time.
Chris: To be fair, Wally West was a legacy character that dates back to 1959.
Matt: Sure. But Bart Allen could slide into whatever role he fills, if the pressure gets too heavy.
Chris: I think that works in Ryan Choi’s favor, though. Like I said, there’s not a whole lot of baggage. And while “Ryan Choi” might not be iconic, “The Atom” is one of the biggest Justice League names that we haven’t seen yet. I can’t think of a good argument against him.
Matt: He’d be a really good choice, too. Maybe Gail Simone can write a new solo title!
Odds: 2 to 1
Chris: Here we have our first non-superhero, former JLA sidekick Snapper Carr. Unless you count that time that he was kidnapped by aliens and given the ability to teleport whenever he snapped his fingers (which he later lost when he got his hands cut off and regrown), which nobody does because I’m the only one who still thinks INVASION! was the best crossover ever.
Matt: Snapper’s held a lot of positions over the years, going from Justice League mascot to superhero consultant to talk show host to Checkmate agent. I’d say option two might fit best in the New 52. And his sexual orientation wouldn’t affect of any of those things.
Chris: I don’t think Snapper Carr’s sexual orientation would affect anything, period. Except maybe his relationship with his ex-wife Bethany, but again: Tom Peyer’s Hourman is not exactly the prominent piece of continuity that it should be.
Matt: Of course, that’s the problem. Snapper Carr’s sexual orientation wouldn’t affect much of anything. Anywhere. He’s a longtime DC character, and he’s appeared in lots of media adaptations of the Justice League, but I just don’t think too many people care about him.
Chris: And adding to the problem, his role as the Justice League’s mascot/sidekick whatever is already being filled by Steve Trevor. Even the people with a fond nostalgia for those early days of the JLA wouldn’t be all that stoked to see Snapper Carr back in action. If he’s the one they go with, then it’s going to be pretty obvious that they just wanted an established name to bring out, grab a headline and then shove back into limbo. I’m not saying DC’s above that strategy – remember Lois Lane’s New Boyfriend Jonathan Carroll, who I’m pretty sure has been seen exactly once since the reboot? – just that even they have to realize it’d be pretty obvious.
Matt: All I’m saying is that, if USA Today has a headline about how Snapper Carr is gay now, a lot of people are going to be wondering how a fish ended up being such an important character in comic books.
Odds: 7 to 1.
Matt: Wildcat, the former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion who battled Nazis in World War II, may not totally meet the standard of iconic, but he’s had some major appearances recently. He was Black Canary’s mentor on the Justice League Unlimited cartoon (as he was in the comics), and he was a recurring character in one of the best DC comics of the past 15 years or so, Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman.
Chris: And he has a long history in the DC Universe as a member of the original Justice Society. Up to this point, we’ve mostly talked about younger characters, but I think it’s important to note that homosexuality wasn’t just invented in the ’80s. It’d be kind of cool to see that the “new” gay character was actually an older fella, and making him a two-fisted tough guy like Ted Grant would do a lot to buck the stereotypes that still exist in a lot of media. Plus, with as much as DC loves strip-mining Alan Moore’s ideas for their bold new initiatives, ripping off Steve “Jetman” Traynor from Top Ten is right up their alley.
Matt: Plus, his whole thing is that he teaches women to defend themselves. Anything we’ve suggested here could turn into a stereotype if handled the wrong way, but a good writer could do a lot with that scenario that doesn’t turn him into a flamboyant hair stylist type.
Chris: The case against this one is pretty strong, though. If we see Wildcat anytime soon, he’s probably going to be in Earth-2 as part of the Justice Society. The odds of him showing up in the regular DC Universe are pretty slim to begin with.
Matt: That’s true, and making a grown man who dresses up like a kitty into the company’s defining example of gayness might open a sizable can of worms.
Odds: 10 to 1.
Chris: You said that you’ve seen this theory elsewhere, and I have to admit that Plastic Man is not that much of a — wait for it — stretch. Now that we’ve seen Huntress and Steel in the New 52, the quirky, stretchable superhero is one of the only members of the Morrison-Era Justice League (along with Zauriel and Aztek) that we haven’t seen in one form or another.
Matt: The Justice League International considered him for membership in the New 52, but decided against it. That’s all we’ve seen so far. He’s one of DC’s oldest characters and you could argue any member of the Morrison Justice League of America is an icon.
Chris: And like Vibe, he made it to TV with Brave and the Bold and a DC Nation short. But man, if you think the kitty suit would send a dubious message, the guy made of living rubber has got to be right out.
Matt: Kyle Baker did some great stuff with an all-ages Plastic Man title, and wouldn’t that be great to revisit with a gay character? He even had an adopted daughter. But you’re right. Plus, his ZANY antics could easily come off as stereotypical flamboyance.
Chris: I almost think it would be awesome, if only because there could be the potential for some really great comedy in there. But that comedy could very, very easily swerve into pretty offensive territory, and I doubt that DC even wants to take a chance with this one. After all, they made sure to specify that the character in question was a hero, and not a villain.
Matt: La Cage Aux Flying is probably not they direction they want to go.
Odds: 10 to 1.
Matt: Imagine how Darkseid would react to the most powerful warrior of Jack Kirby’s New Gods being gay. You know he’d pull a Jay Pritchett and refuse to believe it for years.
Chris: I actually think that would be awesome. We talked about it with Wally West, but how great would it be if Darkseid was like “NO WAY, NOT FROM MY APOKOLIPTIAN GENETICS!” It’s perfectly in character, too: He’s the guy that just hates on people for who they are.
Matt: I guess the biggest issue with Orion’s sexual orientation changing is that Orion isn’t particularly known for his romantic relationships, unlike New Gods Big Barda and Mr. Miracle, whose love story is one of the best in comics.
Chris: Yeah. But at the same time, those characters and stories were written with so much bombast that it’s really easy to look at Orion and Lightray and imagine them being a couple, as opposed to just good friends who constantly shouted about how super glad they were to see each other all the time. The Fourth World is pretty boisterous is what I’m getting at.
Matt: It’d actually be a pretty easy retcon. Orion could have been gay ALL ALONG. If there was an all along to have, that is.
Chris: Yeah. Like you said, romance and relationships aren’t really his thing. But like Wildcat, having the dude who is destined to literally punch evil incarnate to death being gay would be a nice anti-stereotype, and having it just added to the background would be an interesting “sexuality is no big deal” sort of way to play it. The catch is that obviously, DC wants the sexuality to be a big deal. If they didn’t we wouldn’t be writing this article in anticipation of an announcement that’s been teased weeks in advance.
Matt: Also, the character was “previously heterosexual,” and as far as we know, Orion was basically asexual.
Matt: I anxiously await the Mature Readers Battlesex title.
Odds: 20 to 1.
Chris: As CA’s Andrew Wheeler pointed out, Cat-Man’s been “Dumbledored.” Gail Simone, who used the former supervillain/anti-hero more prominently than anyone else during her run on Secret Six, said on her Tumblr that “Catman is bisexual, and when we bring him back, that will be explicitly in canon.”
Matt: In which case any decision to make him gay isn’t as big of a step. We’ve been assured the character was straight in the previous continuity.
Chris: But at the same time, that does imply that they’re planning on bringing Catman back as one of DC’s only bisexual male characters, and since it was never explicitly stated before the reboot, they could just be hedging their bets. Of course, that implies that a comic book publisher’s PR might not be entirely honest, and what a crazy world we’d live in if that were the case. Then again, he’s not really what you’d call “iconic,” either.
Matt: There’s a lot of hedging with this choice, is what you’re saying.
Chris: Yeah. I don’t think this is the one that’s going to be announced, but it’s interesting that Simone is so forthright about definitely establishing him as bisexual in a return that, as of last October, was on the way.
Odds: 25 to 1.
Matt: It’d be kind of genius to bring back Vic Sage, the original blank-faced superheroic detective, but keep the Question as a gay character, given that the most recent character to carry the mantle of the Question was Renee Montoya, the most prominent lesbian in the DCU until Batwoman came alond.
Chris: It would certainly be something. Of course, if that utterly nonsensical Free Comic Book Day story counts, we’ve already seen the Question… sort of. I’m not really sure what happened in that thing.
Matt: It was a mess. He was on trial for something? And they made him forget his name? And now he questions himself? If I thought Steve Ditko paid any attention to any of this stuff, I’m sure he’d be blasting into orbit.
Chris: Oh man, if I thought that the “questioning himself” they were talking about meant that he was cursed to forever question his sexuality, I think I’d be blasting off like Team Rocket too.
Matt: Which is probably why Sage isn’t a likely candidate for this. His death in 52 was one of the most powerful storylines in that comic, and I thought Montoya was a great Question. That’s one thing I’d kind of preferred just stayed the same. That said, the Vic Sage Question was one of the coolest characters on Justice League Unlimited.
Chris: Yeah, I’m with you on this one: I’d really like to see Renee Montoya return as the Question far more than Vic Sage being revived.
Odds: 25 to 1.
Chris: If it seems unlikely that DC would recast someone known mostly from Super Friends as a gay character, keep in mind that this is the same company that introduced Marvin, Wendy and Wonder Dog into continuity, then revealed that Wonder Dog was a demonic monster in a blood-soaked scene where he ate Marvin and mauled Wendy’s legs to the point where they had to be amputated. This happened in Teen Titans. Compared to that, saying Zan’s gay would be about as extreme as giving him a new costume.
Matt: Yes, as Daniel Butler and I posited in our Let’s Be Friends Again guest comic, a New 52 Zan would probably be a mass murdering alpha bro. Not that he couldn’t be that and gay, but the general editorial edict has been to macho up any characters in DC’s stable that could be called “gay” in the pejorative sense.
Chris: The purple v-neck costume does seem like it would be a little on the nose.
Odds: 40 to 1
Matt: The next name on our list is Rainbow Raider, and I’m just going to go ahead and say no.
Chris: Look, if we know one thing about the current DC Universe, it’s that they love for things to be as literal as possible, and… you know what? You’re right. Let’s just move on.
Matt Wilson: 100 to 1, at best.
Matt: His name (which was directly addressed in Morrison’s Animal Man and has been changed to the Grim Ghost), was originally meant to indicate he’s a sort of swashbuckling Errol Flynn type; an older definition of the word. He’s a pretty kickass character.
Chris: This dude is a 15th century nobleman who died and then came back from the dead to fight Nazis with a sword in each hand, while wearing a leather vest and no shirt. That’s seriously his deal, and if he just started cold making out with dude-ghosts and stabbing Hitlers, it would probably be the best comic ever. Just puttin’ that out there.
Matt: I’d read it. Unfortunately, “iconic” just doesn’t fit the bill here and, unless we changed the name of at least one of Batman’s titles to “Straight Batman,” the name ain’t gonna fly.
Chris: Man,what are you talking about? Northstar didn’t come out ’til 1992, and Batwoman didn’t get her own title until 2011! The Gay Ghost was out right there in the title from day one in 1942!
Matt: The version who showed up in Animal Man would disagree.
Chris: Fine, fine. 500 to 1 odds. But I still think it’s either him or the Haunted Tank.