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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 315

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the comics posted so far!

Today we look at a notable point in DC Comics History, courtesy of William Messner-Loebs, Greg La Rocque and Jose Marzan, Jr. in Flash (Volume 2) #53…

Enjoy!

In Flash #53, there is a fun story where Superman teams up with the Flash to save Jimmy Olsen from a bad guy who is demanding (in exchange for Jimmy) a supposedly dead dictator from a South American country. Flash’s mission is to find that dictator (as his speed makes him a very good finder of stuff).

It’s an interesting tale. Here a couple of pages from this story…

La Rocque does a really nice job on Superman there.

Of course, though, the REAL highlight of the issue is this opening sequence, featuring Wally West talking things over with his former foe and current friend, the Pied Piper…

Really well done passage, particularly for 1991.

Be sure to try to snare a copy of this issue to see how the situation is resolved. It’s really well-handled by Loebs.

19 Comments

Was this the 1st gay DC character – the 1st to come out, anyway? BTW, Brian, should be Day 315?

I really liked William Messner Loebs’s run on The Flash, but it really wasn’t blessed with great art.

The Joker being gay ‘rumours’, by the way, came out of Grant Morrison’s somewhat sexualized portrayal of the character in the Arkham Asylum graphic novel– the Joker there is a bit of a flamer and even grabs Batman’s ass at one point (there are even salacious remarks about Robin that were cut, I seem to remember). Piper’s remarks could be seen as a metatextual response to this.

Was this the 1st gay DC character – the 1st to come out, anyway?

Maggie Sawyer in Byrne’s Superman was a couple of years before, but in her first appearances they never explicitly stated she was a lesbian, though it was extremely implicit.

always wondered what issue the piper came out in. not to mention what flash’es reaction would be. plus love how even the other dc vilain’s won’t eve hang out with the joker because he is pure nasty. plus the piper saying he doubts the joker is gay.

Was Flash shiny back then?

Was Flash shiny back then?

Yes. And he had no eyeballs. It was a short-lived attempt to make him look a little cooler and more 90s.

Was this the 1st gay DC character – the 1st to come out, anyway? BTW, Brian, should be Day 315?

As Graeme notes, it was the first character to outright say that they were gay.

And yeah, thanks for the number correction – that was an odd little snafu on my part! Fixed now!

The Dark Knight Returns certainly made Joker seem gay, though I guess you may not consider that as part of the mainstream universe as Arkham Asylum may be. You ask me, making the Joker gay is actually sort of offensive. It seems like such an easy conclusion. He’s all flamboyant and dresses in purple, etc, so of course, he must be gay!

I was under the impression Maggie Sawyer was definitively a lesbian, though maybe it was more ambiguous at first. Even the Superman animated series made no mention of it, but had her female friend sitting by her hospital bed after she was injured.

Maggie Sawyer in Byrne’s Superman was a couple of years before, but in her first appearances they never explicitly stated she was a lesbian, though it was extremely implicit.

I always loved that trait in Byrne’s work. He could make adult themes extremely clear without overtly saying very much. Intentionally or not, it always added a touch of verisimilitude. Maggie Sawyer was a lesbian, but that was never an essential element of the plot. It was just a character element that turned up from time-to-time.

That said, I thought the Wally West-Pied Piper friendship was fantastic. The big disclosure tells the reader more about Wally than it does the Pied Piper. Great work by Loebs and La Rocque (despite the silly ’90s costume).

I recall there were lots of allusions to the Joker being gay . . . sort of ‘tips of the hat.
Come to think of it, I feel that when those little things started popping up, they were used more to just make him seem odder, more eccentric, and “alien”.
As more writers started picking up on it though–less insightful writers maybe–I think they kind of made an assumption that the added flourishes were there to ‘wink’ at homosexulaity, rather then the inhuman non-confirmist mind in the joker’s head.

The humanizing of the Rogues is one of my favorite things about Messner-Loebs’ run. I really think he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for really coming up with a lot of the characterizations that we now associate with the Flash-verse.

This run of Flash was underrated; not a bad thing, though, since the back issues are cheap. Good story here with some nice character work all the way around. I do miss some of the other characters mined in this time, though. Chunk was rarely used by Waid and has disappeared all together.

“Yes. And he had no eyeballs. It was a short-lived attempt to make him look a little cooler and more 90s.”

He had the look for a while. For better context, that costumed debut in issue #50 in Flash and lasted the better part of a decade. Maybe it helps to think that it debuted in Giffen’s JLE run around issue 23 and lasted through part of Morrison’s run, if memory serves. It also was his costume for JLU. While that isn’t forever, it is better than some others.

Personally, I always liked the shiny suit for Wally. I saw it less as trying to be cool and more as another step in being a character separate from Barry Allen while still remaining in the family.

Love the shiny suit. Wally used it up to Morrison and Millar’s short run, when it was replaced by the Speed Force suit (apparently Morrison didn’t like the idea of Flash not showing his eyes).

Wally’s current costume resembles that one in color, thunderbolt design and the white eyes, though I think it’s not as shiny (it also borrows from the “Dark Flash” costume).

And the next issue of Flash was “Nobody Dies”. Messner-Loebs rocks. And issue 58 is a great piece also featuring homelessness and Piper (but he doesn’t mention there that he’s gay — I thought gay characters were required to bring it up every appearance they make? :) )

Having just recently read Arkham Asylum and Dark Knight Returns (again…), I’d say that Miller might be trying to make the Joker gay more than Morrison. Morrison, in the books and the notes in the 15th anniversary edition, seems to be saying that Batman is incapable of a romantic relationship (as Morrison wrote him at that point), and the Joker is playing on that to mess with his head. DKR’s “Darling” suggests that Miller is trying for a relationship between Joker and Batman that’s more homoerotic, but I don’t know that he’s trying to “make” the Joker gay there.

There’s a TwoMorrows “Comics Go to Hollywood” FCBD edition from a few years back that features an article on the Joker that discusses some of that. It’s got Denny O’Neil quoted as saying he didn’t like the notion of the Joker as a homosexual because it played into the old stereotype of gay = bad.

I always loved that trait in Byrne’s work. He could make adult themes extremely clear without overtly saying very much. Intentionally or not, it always added a touch of verisimilitude. Maggie Sawyer was a lesbian, but that was never an essential element of the plot. It was just a character element that turned up from time-to-time.

Basically the anti-Winick/Rucka.

I think Barda and Superman would have words with you about how Byrne uses “adult themes”.

@ Dalarsco:

The Superman-Big Barda deal was certainly not the high point of the Byrne’s career. Despite what happened being terrible, the way it was done was pretty skillful. The reader is never explicitly told happened and the focus is firmly placed on the reactions of the characters.

In other words, Byrne was better with this stuff at his worst than some people are at their best.

Extrano from The New Guardians predates this coming out by about three years. I don’t remember him saying he was gay but there was no doubt in my mind he was the first time we saw him.

Personally the revelation that Tazmanian Devil was gay, about a year after thus, was more important to me. Finally a masculine gay man in comics. Piper seemed very fey to me and too stereotypically ‘gay’.

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