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CSBG Archive

House to Astonish Episode 85

Paul and I are back after our week away, looking at the coming out of Alan Scott, the wedding of Northstar, the crusade of One Million Moms, the Eagle Awards imbroglio, the ever-increasing character cast of Iron Man 3, the continuing success of the Avengers and where Marvel TV goes next. There are also reviews of Mind MGMT, Ravagers and Grim Leaper, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe finds that cash rules everything around it. All this plus the best double-glazing salesman, U-list villains and an enormous bunny rabbit.

As ever, we want to her your thoughts on the issues we’ve been discussing, including (but not limited to) any of the following:

  • Is DC’s decision to out Alan Scott the right one? Should they have gone for a more iconic character, or kept Obsidian around by dint of some kind of comic-book magic?
  • Has the comics industry moved on from 1990s writers such as Howard Mackie, or is there still a place for that old guard?
  • Is the third Iron Man movie in danger of cramming in too many characters? Can Marvel Studios handle it, or are we looking at another Batman & Robin or Spider-Man 3?

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, available via the Stitcher.com website or through their free iPhone or Android apps, or on iTunes.

Or just play it right here!

Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Twitter (I’m @housetoastonish and Paul’s @ifdestroyed), via email (at housetoastonish@gmail.com) or on our Facebook fan page

14 Comments

As per your questions:
Eh, I was little underwhelmed that it was the old Green Lantern honestly, after all the hype. I think this was just DCs attempt to have it both ways. It would be like Ultimate Spider-Man coming out as gay…

Yes, I think that overall it has moved pass the Mackie’s of the world. I mean, especially for myself, I demand more quality writing out of books than what someone of his caliber typically give you. Not that Mackie was horrible, but he was not the most creative or intriguing writer out there. I think though that there will always be places for the Mackie’s, but the industry must follow the demands of the people, and the people are (should be?) demanding more than what Mackie would deliver. (Hopefully I am considering your question about Mackie correctly…)

Hell yeah the new Iron Man sounds like it is going to crumble to the weight of “Too Many Villains” syndrome. The issue tends to be that the origin stories are so good,b ut the further away from those that you go, the film makers tend to think that they needs to cram more other shit into the movies instead of focusing on the characters they already have. Although Batman and Robin was just garbage because it was poorly made and acted overall and I think that SM3 was not actually not as bad as people make it out to be, but I do think that it was unfair to shoehorn such an amazing and iconic character as Venom into the last bit of a film, not too mention the problems were more with too many conflicts and storylines instead of too many characters I think.
I also think that part of the problem is that if the movie is just another Super Hero takes on a Villain, then it becomes too repetitive and the film makers are not being very creative in a way to solve that problem.

I think you were being a bit unfair in referring to James Badge Dale as the guy from 24 season 3. He was great in The Pacific and Rubicon. Looking forward to seeing what he does in Iron Man 3. It does sound quite crowded. I just hope they don’t have to throw in much more Avengers prep like the Black Widow stuff in IM2.

Mike Loughlin

June 2, 2012 at 10:03 am

I have no problem with Alan Scott being gay. I can’t shake the feeling that it was done in order to grab headlines, but he’ll still be gay once the attention dies down. If James Robinson & co. write him well, it could be a good step for DC.

Older writers & artists tend to get pushed aside as tastes & trends change. It’s unfortunate, especially when they can still produce quality work. One of many ways the American comic book industry sucks is the way older creators are discarded, often with inadequate health insurance or retirement funds.

“It would be like Ultimate Spider-Man coming out as gay…”
Or killing him off and replacing him with a black guy?

1. It would have been fine if DC just decided to make Alan Scott gay and ran with that. I think from a PR standpoint, it was a bit tacky the way they handled it. “Someone iconic is gay, but guess who!” for weeks. So, when they finally announced it… a bit of a letdown that it’s their 3rd or 4th tier Green Lantern.

It would have been bolder and more interesting if it was Jimmy Olsen.

2. There’s always a place for writers who can craft good stories and stay current. Mark Waid is a “90s writer” who knows the craft and has stayed current, for example. What’s NOT working for me in some of DC’s titles is the 90s approach to storytelling, where everyone runs around in circles getting chased and hunted for issues on end… that’s not constructing a good story.

I read RAVAGERS, and so far, it falls in that category. It’s that 90s approach of slapping characters together, giving them random things to hit… with no real story. I’m not really familiar with Mackie, but that one issue didn’t make me a fan.

So 90s writers? Sure! 90s style storytelling? Pass!

3. The third sequels always start to get overstuffed with characters,don’t they? (X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman) But Iron Man II had a bunch of characters to juggle and did fine…. and then Avengers had a bunch of characters…. so it’s certainly possible to do it. I always try and have a wait-and-see approach. In the rights hand, many characters can be juggled deftly.

3.

Travis Pelkie

June 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm

One thing that I’ve thought about with the DC gay character is that from my understanding, this didn’t become something they were teasing until they were asked something about gay characters at KaPow a few weeks back. Once they got asked, they teased that someone was going to be gay, and it conveniently budged in on some of the Marvel gay wedding coverage.

So either the person asking the question at Kapow was a ringer, and somehow clued in to ask the question, or somehow, DC actually WASN’T going to hype the hell out of Alan Scott being gay. I find the latter hard to believe, and I also find the former even too cynical for me :)

So I’m wondering, was DC actually going to ease up on hyping this until they were “forced” into it by the question at a con a few weeks back?

As to Obsidian and Jade, weren’t they originally unsure of their parentage? Doesn’t that allow for a new storyline introducing those characters, having them search for their parents, without having them tied to GL? I think that allows for some more interesting stuff if they reintroduce those two.

…I’m going to confess now that I really like Gen13 as a guilty pleasure, since it’s so improbably 1990′s. I really loved the Gail Simone reboot, which made the characters more contemporary and believable, and offered a genuinely good story. But the way they characters are being used now is just pathetic. They’ve dispersed various elements of the WildStorm universe alongside this Teen Titans/Young Justice reboot as a bizarre, incomprehensible melange of 1990s superhero tropes. Even the cheesy appeal those characters had is lost; for example, having Fairchild as the preachy leader of a Claremontian Super-Team with She-Hulk powers, as opposed to playing her as the lone sensible member of the Gen13 kids with comic obliviousness to the way she ended up in fan service situations.

So no, I don’t like the attempts to get the 1990′s band back together at DC, because being hilarious in hindsight isn’t so hilarious when it’s in the present.

Tom Broadhead

June 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I just listened to my first ever edition of House to Astonished and I was loving it already (I would love to see a poster of GAYMAN – bitten by a radioactive Gay he has the proportional speed and strength of a Gay…) and then you made reference to the NZ Tax code. So very happy – I shall be subscribing forthwith!

Tom Broadhead
Senior Policy Analyst
NZ Inland Revenue Department

Alan Scott being gay just feels like a cheap gimmick, a way to draw headlines away from the Northstar wedding – a character that was conceived of as being gay from the beggining.

With the Northstar wedding, there’s some boldness involved at a time when gay marriage is still not consensual in the US.

There’s no storytelling involved with Alan Scott, and no boldness. They took a character to whom they can do anything they want to. I mean, how many fans does Alan Scott even have?

I’d like to see them taking a character that has a strong fanbase and revealing him to be gay. I think that’d be a much bolder move in fighting intolerance.

There’s no storytelling involved with Alan Scott, and no boldness. They took a character to whom they can do anything they want to. I mean, how many fans does Alan Scott even have?

I’d like to see them taking a character that has a strong fanbase and revealing him to be gay. I think that’d be a much bolder move in fighting intolerance.

I don’t understand this at all, why should it be bold? I would hope that DC is not trying to make a statement by introducing a gay hero. My take is just that Robinson wanted to make the DCU (or one world of the DCU anyway) a bit more reflective of our times. The whole point is that nobody really cared about Alan Scott before, so it doesn’t matter that they’re changing something fundamental about the character. By choosing Alan Scott, they get to have a gay hero, without offending any but the most bigotted reader, and he has some automatic traction among the fans by virture of being a legacy character. This is exactly the right approach.

“This is exactly the right approach.”

The right approach to what? If DC isn’t trying to make a statement, then why are they so preoccupied with making a character that’s always been portrayed as heterosexual now be gay? If the idea is to make the DC Universe “a bit more reflective of our times”, then why not simply create gay characters? What they’ve done is like saying, hey, Jay Garrick is now Hispanic. You know, to reflect modern American demographics a bit more.

The most likely real reason for this move: Marvel is getting attention and brownie points with the Northstar wedding, and DC wanted to get some of that for themselves. Kind of like how Marvel reacted to ‘Identity Crisis’ with that silly ‘Identity Disc’ series. So they decided to proclaim they’d reveal an iconic character as beign gay – and they chose an ‘iconic’ character no one cares about.

If the idea is to make the DC Universe “a bit more reflective of our times”, then why not simply create gay characters?

Isn’t Alan Scott’s boyfriend a new gay character?

What they’ve done is like saying, hey, Jay Garrick is now Hispanic. You know, to reflect modern American demographics a bit more.

I agree it is like this, but unlike you, I think this is a good thing. The point is that minorities should be represented among superheroes, which I think we agree on. In a perfect world, you would be able to introduce a new gay hero, but in the current marketplace, fans won’t give it a chance, not (primarily) out of bigotry, but because they never give anything new a chance. By choosing to reintroduce Alan Scott as a gay character, they’ve given a gay character a chance to flourish; they’ve created a situation where it’s reasonable to have a gay character leading the Justice Society, and other new characters can be introduced in connection with him. In addition, it allows them to generate media buzz (“Wait, what?! Green Lantern is gay???”). Almost all successful new heroes of the last 20 or so years started out strongly tied to pre-existing franchises; this is what I mean by “right approach.”

Also, I don’t think you can fault DC for promoting Alan Scott as an “iconic” character in particular, since (1) it’s good that they’re promoting him at all, and (2) DC uses the same “iconic” bullshit in all their promotion, so this is nothing new.

Finally, I think it’s a bit cynical to assume this is a response to Marvel. DC’s Earth 2 #2 drops this month, and the Northstar wedding announcement was made only a few weeks ago? If it’s a response to anything other than the fact that gay people actually exist, it’s more likely a response to Archie’s success with Kevin Keller.

“Isn’t Alan Scott’s boyfriend a new gay character?”

I meant a protagonist, not a love interest.

I think it’s a good thing DC is trying to be more representative of modern American society, it’s just that this approach feels a little too facile to me. But you have a point that introducing new characters these days is pretty difficult.

“If it’s a response to anything other than the fact that gay people actually exist, it’s more likely a response to Archie’s success with Kevin Keller.”

I’d forgotten about that! Color me cynical, but yes, I do believe Marvel and DC are not doing this because gay people exist – they’ve existed for a long time, they’ve been fighting against descrimination for a long time. They’re doing it for the publicity and good will.

The good news is, if Marvel and DC are willing to portray gay superheroes in their mainstream comics, that’s a fair sign that mainstream American society is becoming more open to gay rights.

1. The Alan Scott “reveal” is underwhelming in light of the hype initially surrounding the annoucement – it reeks of lack of control or a bad PR stunt.

2. Didn’t read much Gen 13, but did read some ’90s comics – so long as there is an audience for it, then its ok. After all, there is a fanbase for every type of genre in the book industry, so why should it be different for comics?

3. All the new characters is a red flag to me. Batman & Robin was unwatchable; Spider-Man 3 was ok, but didn’t need 2 villains – one or the other would have been enough. Venom was almost an afterthought and there wasn’t enough room to develop Sandman to make you care about the forgiveness scene.

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