Thursday, May 31, 2012

Comic School Review: Green Lantern #1 (1960). Now Who's Gay?

So a couple of days ago Bleeding Cool reported that DC Comics, in their infinite re-imagining, were planning to make Alan Scott, the original 1940's Green Lantern, gay. This ruffled the feathers of more than a few fans, not because comic enthusiasts are typically homophobic, but because it was: a) Seen as a hollow marketing gimmick, b) Ignored the established continuity, and c) Made Alan's wife of 70 years feel kind of silly. I needed to do some investigating for myself.

But the problem was that I couldn't get hold off any Alan Scott Green Lantern comics! So instead I had to read Green Lantern #1 from 1960, starring Hal Jordan, recently portrayed by Ryan "Let's get these pants off and fly some planes" Reynolds. And I made a shocking discovery! DC Comics got it wrong! Alan Scott was straight, but Hal Jordan is the gay one! And not because of the cover image either, I'm being serious here.

"My eyes are up here, Hal"
I'm not being sensationalist, obvious, or puerile either. I will have a factual, accurate, Freudian analysis of this cultural milestone... After the jump!

Now this first issue actually contains two stories. The first is a long-winded retelling of Hal's origin that is drier that a piece of mummy's toast. I would only recommend it if you find yourself in a situation where you need to immediately lose consciousness. No, I'm far more interested in the story that contains a menacing giant puppet. But of course, as we're about to find out, the real battle here is Hal coming to terms with his sexuality. Yes, the references are thinly veiled but this was the era of the comics code authority.

The opening teaser image gives us a good indication of what we can expect...

I think all men have at one time enjoyed a tremendous force yanking on every part of their body, but the real question is, who is yanking on Hal? Someone wants him bad and is using a tractor beam constructed from pink triangles. A coincidence? I'm not so sure!

But as our real story opens, the beautiful Carol Ferris of the Ferris Aircraft Company is putting on make-up in her office and reminiscing on a "date" with Green Lantern that didn't pan out exactly as planned. You see, Carol is established to be madly in love with Lantern and desperately want to marry him. In the olden days "marry" meant "bone".

But according to Carol, "Getting Green Lantern to propose is like trying to grab a handful of quicksilver." I wonder why? Here's what went down on the date (and it wasn't Carol):

Now isn't this the oldest trick in the book? You're out on a date with a silly, infatuated girl who you're not really keen on for obvious reasons and you've been completely unable to find an appropriate time to tell her, so you organise for one of your current male flings to throw himself into the lake so that you can escape from the date and pretend to rescue him. Who hasn't done that? 

So Carol is sitting there obliviously waiting for Green Lantern to call, but guess where he is?

Can you guess what that important reason is? Because he takes PRIDE in being in a PARADE. And good for him!

While flying through the parade, it's Lantern's turn to reminisce. He recalls a recent episode where he stopped a bank robber called "Biffy" with a giant fist...

Gay or straight, there's some super charged imagery there. "Secret pockets". Close-ups of rings being slid over suggestively extended fingers, giving a giant hand job to a crook. This was why there was a Comics Code to begin with! Lantern then handcuffs Biffy. Notice he's not constructing swords or guns in this story. It's all cuffs and fists. Biffy's a bad seed but Hal appears to have some empathy. He doesn't want to really harm him.

Because you see, Biffy reveals that he felt like he was under some kind of "spell". Like it wasn't him doing the job, but some unseen power manipulating his arms and legs, forcing him to submit. Biffy feels kind of dirty and confused and I think Hal kind of understands what Biffy is going through. There's no parades for guys like Biffy and that's kind of sad.

Hal becomes determined to find this unseen puppeteer and we now know that he's flying in the parade to "tempt him into the open". And that's when the giant puppet attacks!

The clown sneaks up behind Hal and shoots, but Hal turns the blast into confetti and let's it shower all over him. Sigmund Freud strokes his beard and slowly nods his head. Lantern then realises that the puppet is being manipulated by a crane and when he sees the blissed out operator, Hal knows exactly where to focus...

So who is behind all this? Let's meet our mysterious villain...

So we have an older gentleman who sits alone his room, focusing his enormous phallic raygun (positioned between his legs) on hapless strangers so he can bend them to his every command, manipulating their bodies to fulfil his every whim. But here's the real kicker, he can't get anyone to do anything that they aren't secretly disposed to doing already. That's why he's targeting the Lantern - because he knows what makes him tick. Unlike Carol, he knows where Hal's heart truly lies.

Meanwhile Lantern is having the most awkward, passionless dance with Carol and still trying unsuccessfully to tell her how he really feels. But the Puppet Master knows what Lantern really wants...

He literally rips him away from the woman, an act that he couldn't do if Lantern did not want him to. In fact, Hal soon reveals to the Puppet Master that he was only pretending to be under his control. He arrived voluntarily.

Lantern knows he needs to grab hold of this guy fast but then something terrible stops him...

Let's get in Hal's mind a little. This looked like it was going to be a fantasy for him. There he was, having another awkward moment with Carol and then this mysterious dream guy literally tugs him away from her and spirits him away to his phallic lair. It sounded like it should be the answer to his prayers. But sadly, once he gets there he discovers that it's no dream guy at all. It's an old creep wearing a full yellow jumpsuit. And Hal has far too much taste and style to go for that.

It's time to assert dominance:

Snaking around the man's body it is Hal's turn to take control! He humiliates him by making him march like a puppet to police headquarters. He is tethered to a leash and there's no safety word!

And we're back to Carol. She's still sitting in her office waiting for Lantern to show up but... no it's Hal in civilian clothes. Carol is disappointed but Hal thinks, "It's a snap to get Carol to go for me as GL - but I'm determined to win her over as my real self - Hal Jordan". Because this is the 1960's and Hal clearly wants to marry Carol as a cover, so that Green Lantern can go on being utterly fabulous. So who is the real self?

We can gain one of two things from all this...

Firstly, DC could hire me to try to retroactively justify all their wacky decisions. I'm sure I can go through these old books and make everyone gay if they honestly think that will sell more books. Better yet, what if Darksied invents a Gay-Ray and makes everybody gay! And then in six months you can do a big marketing gimmick where one of the characters is shockingly revealed as straight!

Or secondly, why don't they commit to making Hal Jordan - a character that actually matters in modern times - gay, instead of settling for the half-assed decision of Alan Scott? And then make a mainstream movie marketed to everyone where Hal just happens to be gay. Do something brave if you feel strongly about it. I'll go and see it.

1 comment:

  1. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Hal Jordan were gay. You know, Barry Allen (Flash) got married eventually to Iris, Bruce knocked up Talia but couldn't commit...Clark married Lois...but Hal....never quite got it together with Carol, even though her "heart is full of love"...hmmmmmm....

    I'm happy that Alan Scott's going to be gay though...and he'll be a major character in Earth 2, which is looking like a high profile book right now (although only one issue is out so far, and he's not in it). You're right it's not as brave as if it were Hal, but it's better than the old days. We've also got a gay couple in stormwatch and a gay teen in teen there's representation...