Marvel made headlines the other day by announcing that they were reviving an old comic book character, the Rawhide Kid. Okay, that’s intersting enough, I suppose. I was curious what Marvel was going to do with the character, because Western comics have been making a small comeback lately. But that’s not what was making the headlines. You see, not only were they going to bring back The Rawhide Kid, but it was announced that he was going to be gay! Shocking!
Now, I have no problem with gay characters in comics, per se. But what I do have a problem with is the fact that it seems that the character’s sexuality is going to be the entire raison d’etre of the story.
Although shy with girls, the original Rawhide Kid was not intended to be gay. The new version uses double entendres and euphemisms to reveal his homosexuality without saying anything explicitly. Based on a blurb on Marvel’s Web site, the tone may be campy.
In a bubble in the first edition of the series, Rawhide Kid comments about the Lone Ranger: “I think that mask and the powder blue outfit are fantastic. I can certainly see why the Indian follows him around.”
Just what the world needs–another campy gay retread of an old character. Way to get away from stereotypes and move into good storytelling, Marvel!
Look, here’s the deal. Whether a character is gay, black, obsessed with disco, or whatever, it is death to storytelling to try and write about nothing but the one characteristic that you think “defines” the character. Nobody is “defined” by their sexuality–they’re defined by their choices and actions. So if you want to have gay characters, have ‘em–but don’t revolve their lives around being gay. Make them real, accessible characters–because that’s what gets people interested.
Case in point are Warren Ellis’ creations Apollo and Midnighter–”The World’s Finest Couple”–from Stormwatch and The Authority. Yes, they’re gay. Yes, they’re a couple. But they’re also two of the toughest sons-of-bitches in the Wildstorm universe. (Well, they were–the WildStorm universe being what it is, I’m not sure what the hell is up with them now.) A typical exchange between the two, from The Authority. (starting with Midnighter)
“So what are you doing?”
About how I’m going to snap every bone in that clown’s body and shove his friend’s mace so far he’s going to need eight years physiotherapy and a good proctologist to walk again.”
“God, I just love you to bits sometimes.”
Honestly, who needs campy gay stereotypes to be considered “relevant”? Well, Marvel does, apparently.