I Love Ya But You’re Strange – DC Superheroes Know Surprisingly Little About AIDS
Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a suggestion for a future installment!
This week, in part as a favor to our own Sonia Harris, who apparently never got to see these over in England, we spotlight the series of Public Service Announcements DC Comics did for AIDS awareness, starring a few of their mid-1990s superheroes (some of whom do not come off looking too good).
Now first off, before beginning, let me note that obviously these were a good idea by DC Comics. AIDS awareness during the early 1990s was very important and DC should be commended for trying to help out. That said, you can do a nice thing and still end up doing it kind of goofily, and that’s what these comics were.
Thanks to Scott for all of the scans. It saved me flipping through a variety of early 1990s DC comic books looking for the ones that had the right PSAs in them. Check out Scott’s PSA spotlight at his awesome blog, Polite Dissent.
First up in showing how little he knows about HIV and AIDS is Robin, one of the smartest teen heroes in the DC Universe….
A couple of points about that classic last panel…
1. He is in the Batcave when he begins the sentence and then finishes it when he is swinging through the city. So, what, he didn’t say anything to Alfred until he’s swinging through the city and then says something even though Alfred is long gone?
2. He’s swinging through Gotham to “get some facts”? What, is going to attack some thugs? “WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HIV?!?! TELL ME, PUNKS! TELL ME!!!”
I believe Tom Lyle did the artwork for that PSA.
Next up on the moron parade are Booster Gold and Blue Beetle.
I don’t know who did the artwork for this one.
Anyhow, Beetle and Booster are hanging around being creepy…
“I only date nice women?” YIKES.
Also, why does Beetle feel better now?
Amusingly enough, soon after that initial PSA went up, Doomsday happened and Booster’s armor was destroyed and Fire lost her powers. So in 1994, they did the same ad, only with some re-touches to update Fire to her “Secret Agent DaCosta” look and Booster to his “Beetle-made armor” look…
They even kept the aura from her flames! Hilarious.
Final superhero on the moron parade is Changeling from the New Titans (art by Tom Grummett)…
“Can’t we get sick or even die just by being here?” Oh, Gar, Gar, Gar…
Now that we’re done with moron superheroes, let’s see Flash yell at some moron kids!
I still love that Travis Charest shot of Flash dunking the basketball.
Next, Green Lantern saves Freddy Mercury from an angry mob…
Joe Staton always drew some over-the-top gay characters. Remember Extrano of the New Guardians? Also, wat, exactly, does John Stewart mean by “AIDS is spreading fastest among people you wouldn’t expect”? Who wouldn’t we expect? TV repairmen? Mailmen? I need to know, GL!
This John Stewart one was also one that was edited to change things up. Now, instead of changing John’s look, he’s removed entirely…
Again, thumbs up to DC for doing these things. Good on them!