Monday, July 6, 2009
Two characters you've probably never heard of are kissing
I don't know how many of you know or care about two B/C-List superheroes from the 1990's but Peter David's most recent issue of X-Factor had Shatterstar coming out of the closet. He and his fellow X-Force teammate Richter share a passionate kiss after he breaks free of mind control (and long after they've both apparently broken free of their horrible 90's hair and outfits - see above).
The reaction from the comic blogging nerd community has unsurprisingly been very positive or very indifferent thus far. The reaction from Shatterstar's original creator, on the other hand, has been snippy at best and homophobic at worst (and has resulted in a "so bad you have to watch with popcorn" train wreck/flamewar between himself and Peter David in the comments section). Other people have been, shall we say, on the opposite end of the spectrum than Mr. Liefeld (A mention on Queer As Folk even? Wow, I salute their obscure nerdiness).
Personally, I was unsurprised. It's a canny move to increase sales on a book that's under a lot of people's radars. Also, Peter David kind of has a history of doing this sort of thing before. Mind you, if people really want to go on and on about how much a gay hero coming out pleases them, maybe they should take a few seconds and stick up for a real one. Just a suggestion. Don't mind me. Let's move on to talking about the important things in life, like comic book continuity from the 1990's.
As for this being a natural extension of the previous canon or not, I'd had suspicions even in my naive teen years that writers were trying to hint at this. I vaguely (mis?)remember that they had the two guys being "Roommates" in a mansion that could house dozens of people. Mind you, it's never been a topic that weighed heavily on my mind. They're remnants from X-Force, for crissakes. X-FORCE. Yeah, so what if I totally collected in the 90's, I was young and foolish then. Shut up. I'm just mildly amused and hesitantly pleased by this. I mean, this is Peter David, so he could just be setting up this couple to only have one or both of them die in a tragic/ironic way (possibly in a way that also involves a terrible pun)*.
Still, it's a nice change to see Richter out as a bisexual. Yes, I said bisexual. He's slept with women, such as Rahne Sinclair, prior to this little revelation. Clearly, he is both bisexual and has kind of a definite fondness for redheads & strawberry blonds**. In popular fiction of any stripe, but especially sci-fi, fantasy and the like, bisexuals are often rarer than rubies (English fiction not withstanding). My favorite thing about this revelation thus far is that nobody's screaming bloody murder about his bisexuality in all this fervor about Shatterstar coming out of the closet. Mystique is the only other bisexual character I can think of in Marvel Comics and she's either crazy, evil or evil and crazy***. For every touching moment Claremont wrote between her and Destiny, some other writers have her using Sabretooth to get knocked up or hitting on her daughter's boyfriend or something equally squicky. And now she's dead or something. I think. Lord knows, I can't keep track of the X-Titles without a scorecard anymore.****
Anyways, I think people are making more of this than it actually is. Despite Peter David's claims, this is still a mild revelation about two characters only a handful of people remember (nerds of all sexualities on the Interweb aside). Plus, I haven't seen a word of this on the national news, so I really don't think that anyone should cross their fingers that Richter and Shatterstar are going to be the next Midnighter and Apollo. If I'm proved wrong, well, hooray for tolerance and Shatterstar roaring back in popularity, even without his terrible 90's hair and amusingly over the top double swords (Man, I shoulda tossed him in that Sulu and Spiral thing. Too late now, I guess.)
Which reminds me, hey, Jenny Sparks was bisexual as well and she was the team leader of The Authority. Except for the being dead part, she's probably the most heroic, exemplary example of a bisexual comic book character I can think of.***** Man, Ellis' Authority was awesome. But I digress, to steal a phrase.
X-Factor, on the whole, is one of those books I want to like more than I actually end up liking it (unlike Madrox and David's original X-Factor run, which I adored). Mostly, it just rubs me the wrong way for a wide variety of reasons******. Even so, I applaud Peter David for taking this step and hope it works out well for everyone. Mind you, I do find it a trifle amusing that a creator recently lambasted for taking fans on the internet to task for posting his work without permission is now the same person responsible for making the furious assertions of slash fic writers into canon.
*I mentioned my annoyance at Peter David's "writing tics" in an earlier post and that's definitely the topmost one. Mind you, this is differentiated from the Joss Whedon Method, which involves people dying in a somewhat ironic/shocking, sudden way WITHOUT a pun. Usually as punishment for having a healthy, enjoyable sexual relationship - gay or straight. The man is all about people of all genders and sexualities getting punished for having sex or being happy, which is why I suppose he gets all those nice GLAAD awards. Hey, I kid because I love, you rabid Joss Whedon fans, you.
**Since I'm sure a few of you are wondering by now, this is probably the only quality I both identified with and shared with Richter the angry Hispanic superhero cliche growing up. Yes, that's right - I love redheads. There. I said it. God, that feels good to finally get out there.
***Oh, and Shinobi Shaw, I think but who even remembers- *looks up* Oh, hey, wouldja look at that?
****Re: the X-Men titles - while I loved them growing up, I now only enjoy the blessedly continuity-free Astonishing X-Men and have a love/hate relationship with Fraction's Uncanny X-Men (i.e., the "art" of Greg Land and the too-cutesy captions). Otherwise, I'm in the dark. The art on the new X-Force book is amazing, tho', gotta give 'em props for that. Just a damn shame it's, well, X-Force. Team Stabby McBlood Stabby Bub Snickt Stabby Blood does little for me.
*****And before you complain about fridging, Jenny Sparks died saving the Earth by killing GOD. And lived being the badass spirit of the 20th Century, which hey, nice work Ellis. And even though we're discussing Wildstorm, let's just put a pin in talking about Sarah Rainmaker for now. These footnotes are long and obnoxious enough.
******See footnote one. See also, things like the dupe baby and titles like "Dirty, Sexy Monet". Groan.