For the past few weeks, comic book fans have speculated what DC comic book character would return to continuity re-imagined as gay. Guesses ranged from Superman himself, to Batman, to who it actually turned out to be: Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth 2. Yup, we called it a week ago, so high fives all around!
In any case, in advance of the release of Earth Two #2, which contains to big reveal, we chatted with writer James Robinson, first about why he chose to change the sexuality of this Golden Age character, but then opening it up to talk more about why sexuality is important to comic book characters, and what this (and a certain mutant speedster’s upcoming nuptials) mean for the comic book community as a whole. And, be sure to scroll all the way down for a look at the actual pages from Earth 2 #2 featuring Scott and his boyfriend:
MTV Geek: First and foremost, what led to the decision to make this new iteration of Alan Scott gay?
James Robinson: It was just me trying to come up with a well balanced, diverse team. The only thing that bothered me about rebooting the character and making him younger again was that we lost his son Obsidian, who was gay - the original version, obviously, when he was an older man, with a son. And then with that in mind, I thought, well why not make Alan Scott gay - why not make the leader of the Justice Society gay? It worked on every level. I suggested it to Dan Didio, and to be fair to Dan, there wasn’t a moments hesitation. He said, “Yeah, great, great idea.”
Geek: I don’t think it’s something you’ve shied away from before, but why is sexuality even important to a comic book character?
JR: It isn’t that important to a comic book character, honestly, except that if you want comic books to be realistic, you have to acknowledge the diversity of the human race. And for there to be a team - just by the sheer percentage of people who are gay in the world - for there to be a team without a member who is gay just isn’t realistic. And then quite honestly, the more I thought about it, we had Alan Scott, people might be worried they lost this character...
I’m really taking it back to who he was originally. He was always this dynamic, brave, gallant guy that would die for everybody, he protected everybody, he had this knight’s good heart. He was always a media giant, he owned a radio station, and a TV station... Now it’s more the internet and the global media, but it’s really the same thing. He’s still this admirable, cool guy - Alan Scott’s my favorite Golden Age hero. I’ve always loved him, I loved him in ‘The Golden Age,’ I loved him in the time I got to write him in the Justice League. The only change is that he has a different sexuality, but that’s only a small aspect of who he is. Everything else is the same, it’s familiar, the same heroic guy who we’ve always known.
Geek: Comics haven’t had the best track record with handling homosexual characters. It often breaks down to that’s their one defining characteristic - every time they show up, they are the “gay character.” I imagine, based on what you’ve been saying, that’s not how you’re going to approach Alan Scott... But I am curious to hear how you plan on approaching him in Earth 2.
JR: He’s going to be the leader of the team, he’s going to be everything I just listed... And when we get to his private life, and focus on romance, it will be with a man. In the way that you would have a character, when it would feel right to have romance for the story, in their private life... That will be the only difference. Apart from that, the character is the same character.
I didn’t want to make this all about him being gay, gay, gay. Like you said, when it becomes too much like that... I have lots of gay friends, and they’re completely rounded people, of which their sexuality is only a part of who they are. I really want Alan Scott to be the same sort of character, like my real life friends.
Geek: This is an “only in comics” question, do the people on Earth 2 have different policies or questions towards homosexual relationships than we do in the United States?
JR: If I made it more liberal, it would strike as too unrealistic. One of the unfortunate things about the United States is that some states are less willing to people have their personal freedoms. So in Earth 2, some of those things are obstacles a gay person might face. But Alan Scott is a force of nature, so he would never let that stand in his way. He’s proud of who he is on every level.
Geek: Are we going to see Alan in a relationship at all? And if so, will it be someone we know, or someone new?
JR: I’m still working that out... But it will probably be somebody new. Just for now, I’m trying to establish his origin, who Alan Scott is, in terms of all aspects of who he is. So for the first few issues, there are plenty of aspects I’m focusing on apart from his sexuality.
Geek: To talk a little more broadly, I know you can’t really comment on what other publishers or writers are doing, but clearly there’s some sort of critical mass that’s hit the past two weeks in terms of discussing gay characters in comics. Why do you think now is the right time?
JR: I don’t know that this is the right time. Sometimes things just are in the air, things just happen because they happen. I was planning this for eight months. And quite honestly, I don’t think myself, or DC, or Dan thought it was going to get this much attention. Northstar has been around for twenty-five years. And Archie, having their first gay character relatively recently. Things just happen because it’s the right time to happen. I’m just glad the time is now, I guess.
Geek: What else is coming up on the book, other than this reveal that people are naturally going to focus on?
JR: You get to see Alan Scott, the media empire, and who he is the beginning of his origin in issue two. Issue two - as the cover probably conveys - focuses more on the origin of Jay Garrick, The Flash; while issue three, while continuing those story threads, is primarily the origin of the Green Lantern. I should clarify that on Earth 2, he has the power of green energy within him, so he’s the living storehouse of it - he has a ring, but he doesn’t actually have a lantern.
This is something where myself, and Geoff Johns Pat McCallum have taken the time to make him, and The Flash, and The Atom different... So they stand apart from the others, so when they do meet - and down the line, they will eventually and inevitably meet - there’s some interesting differences that are immediately apparent.
So his origin also brings about the origin of the Justice Society’s first villain, which is a classic Justice Society reimagined. And just a hint as to who it is, it’s a classic Alan Scott Green Lantern villain. So they have to deal with as they’re coming together as a team. We’re bringing in Hawkgirl, you’ll meet the Atom - though he won’t actually join the team for a while - and then we’ll go into our second arc, where we’ll meet more characters. The good thing about this book being called Earth 2 is that I get to build a world and, I can have these characters come in organically, and I can get to know who they are as people. Often when you have a team book, you have to get all those characters in quickly, and some of those character’s personalities get short shift. I’m lucky enough with this book to take the leisure time to hopefully do it right. I say hopefully with my fingers crossed.
Geek: Now, when you say classic Green Lantern villain, you’re clearly referring to Sportsmaster, right?
Earth Two #2 hits comic book stands from DC Comics on June 6th, 2012!