Comic Vine News

312 Comments

Interview: James Robinson Reveals DC's Latest LGBT Character

SPOILER ALERT: The writer discusses the decision to make the leader of the EARTH 2 Justice Society an LGBT character and why that doesn't really matter.

Some writers, like James Robinson, are familiar with writing LGBT characters. Perhaps this is why the decision to re-introduce one of DC's oldest characters as an LGBT character in the New 52 came so easily for the man who wrote the first kiss shared between two gay characters in a comic book. We had the chance to catch up with James and talk to him about the decision, ask him why it was (and wasn't) an important decision, and what readers can expect out of his EARTH 2 series.

We also get a look at two pages from EARTH 2 #2, the upcoming issue of his ongoing DC title. Finally, due to the time constraint we were unable to ask all the questions we wanted to ask. We also know there are a lot of questions many of you might have about the decision and the series overall which is why we have invited James to join us for next Friday's podcast (Friday, June 8th 2012). Please submit your questions and comments for James to podcast@comicvine.com. If you don't mind the spoiler before the release of EARTH 2 issue #2, check out the full interview below.

== TEASER ==
*click to enlarge*

Comic Vine: Why Alan Scott? Was this your choice? Was it an Editorial decision and how and when did the decision come about?

James Robinson: It came about 8 months ago when I was first putting the team together. One of the things that bothered me about the reboot and about the Justice Society being young again was that there were some characters that would no longer exist. One of those characters is Obsidian, Alan Scott's gay son. So from then on I started to think about it and it seemed like a logical leap to make Alan Scott gay. And the idea that the leader of the Justice Society, the most honorable, dynamic and gallant hero on Earth 2 would be a gay man just seemed like a really cool and interesting direction for the character.

So it was my idea, but to be fair Dan DiDio, when he heard about the idea, there wasn't a moment of hesitation on his part. He thought it was a great idea

CV: My next question is actually about Obsidian and Jade. Pre-New 52 Alan Scott had had a romantic relationship with Rose Canton and the two characters had twin babies, Obsidian and Jade. Now that Scott has been reintroduced into the DC Universe as a gay character, does that mean neither of these characters (Obsidian and Jade) ever existed? Does that mean Scott and Rose never had a relationship?

JR: Remember, this is a reboot. Not a relaunch. There are sweeping changes that were made in the DC Universe and one of those is that Jade and Obsidian couldn't exist because Alan Scott is just too young -- he's about 27 years old now. So, they couldn't exist in that way but because they were popular characters I have been thinking of a way that they could exist that I might try and implement in the future, but that won't be for a while yet.

CV: As a writer, is it important to make Alan Scott a gay character or is this sort of a "non issue"? How do you see it?

JR: Well, it's not like "ooh, we've got a gay character" -- that's sort of been manufactured by fans, really. I think anyway. We've had this idea running for months and months and I didn't think it was a big deal, honestly. I really didn't think it was a big deal. I mean you should have them. Just like there are LGBT people in all aspects of society, it makes sense that there would be gay characters in comic books as well. And when Dan DiDio made that announcement he wasn't being cryptic, he was just making an off-handed comment. He feels the same way honestly. It's just the reality of life and it's not a big deal. I guess it is to some people and as a result there's been this wave of interest in the subject on the internet and in the media.

CV: Alan Scott is a Golden Age character, which means he has a lot of history. Did you worry about any negative reactions from long time fans of the character? Is this something you are anticipating? Or has the feedback so far been mainly positive?

JR: Well it's been mixed. Most people have been very positive and of course there are some people that have…I mean, yes he appeared in a few pages of EARTH 2 #1, but they haven't really gotten to know the character yet. I think there is a rush to pre judge from audiences online, but something I want to stress is that what I want to do with all the EARTH 2 characters is not…I'm not trying to change them in any radical way. In fact I think I am being very faithful to the characters and their origins from the 1940's. These characters have aged…the continuity for Alan Scott, for example, if you follow it is very strange and convoluted. He was an engineer, then a news reader, then he owned the radio station, then he lost his job and became a scientist, then he somehow got back his radio station…So, there's a lot of stuff that's been lead on the character and all I am doing is stripping a lot of that away [getting back to his roots]. What was he back in the day? He was this young, gallant, dynamic take-charge, type A personality, very brave and very caring -- he wanted to protect the world. He was the big powerhouse of the Golden Age characters, in a way. All of that hasn't changed. All that's changed is that the media that he is the master of is the internet media. He's just moving with the times. And in a way he's just moving with the times again. In every way he's the same dynamic, likable Alan Scott that he was before -- all I've really changed is his sexuality; which to me is just one factor of him and it isn't that big of a deal in the first place.

CV: Romantic relationships, will we be seeing any?

JR: At first I'm setting up the team and dealing with threats to the world and everything, but there will be breather moments where we do see what people get up to outside of being a superhero. So yes, you will see romantic relationships.

CV: Are you excited?

JR: I've grown more excited as people have grown excited and interested in it. I was more concerned with other aspects of EARTH 2, Alan Scott's sexuality was just a small part of it but the fact that people have responded so mostly favorably, I am very happy that this have been given the reception that it has been given.

CV: Now, this isn't the first time you've written a gay character in comics, you've actually written a gay character in the past, right?

JR: I actually believe I wrote the first gay kiss -- male gay kiss -- in a comic book back in STARMAN #45. So, I've been doing this sort of thing for a while and it isn't that I have any kind of agenda or anything, it's just that when it suits the story and when it makes sense for that character it's just a realistic depiction of present day society.

CV: In your eyes do you feel it's important to have the leader of the EARTH 2 Justice Society be a gay male?

JR: Well, is it important? Not necessarily. But I think it's cool and it makes a change. I mean one of the things that can happen with gay characters is that when they are on a team they sometimes get pushed aside and their whole identity is wrapped up in this "oh that's the gay character." But when you meet Alan Scott you will find that there are so many [other things that define who he is] different aspects to his life, who he is as a person. I mean, I live in San Francisco, I have plenty of gay friends and their sexuality is just a part of who they are. Obviously there's a whole lot more to all of them and Alan Scott is the same way. By making him the team leader there really is no way that I can't show that aspect of a gay person through him being so at the forefront of the team, and that has to be a good thing. This character is going to be very likable, very brave and he will be someone that a lot of people like. I mean, if there are teenage kids and they like Alan Scott and he is kid is going though his or her own feelings about being LGBT…if it helps him or her in any little way, or if a kid reads Alan Scott and he really likes the character and that makes him think twice about bullying a kid, you know, that's a fantastic plus to the character being the leader of the team.

CV: What can we expect in issue #2 of EARTH 2?

JR: The book -- based on the cover -- is sort of apparent. It really focuses a lot on the origin of Jay Garrick and how he becomes the Flash and his origin as the Flash and why he becomes the Flash. What you will also see is the first appearance of Mr. Terrific from his own comic, and you will meet a major villain in the EARTH 2 universe that Mr. Terrific will encounter. That will be a huge part of the second arc. You will also see more of Alan Scott, who he is and what kind of a person he is and some of his origin will be played out in issue #2 and that will be picked up in issue #3 and by issue #3 he will be the Green Lantern.

Issue #2 of EARTH 2 hits stores on June 6th, 2012. We were lucky enough to have the chance to ask James all these questions about EARTH 2, Alan Scott and what we can anticipate in his ongoing series -- but we also want to give you a chance to ask James questions as well. Mr. Robinson will be joining us on our podcast next Friday, June 8th 2012 to discuss the release of issue #2 and anything else you want to talk to him about. Email your questions and comments to podcast@comicvine.com. You can also follow James on Twitter @JamesdRobinson. What do you think of the news?

312 Comments
Edited by DP812

@mrmisanthrope said:

@DP812:

Did you seriously just assert that anyone who doesn't like this change "should not breed" as if opinions are passed on genetically?

The irony of every stupid word you just posted is hilarious.

The assertion that this is just completely normal, and every comic should have gay characters is completely illogical too. Homosexuals represent 2-4% of the population, yet in a cheap attempt to draw in the lowest, most base audience -not homosexuals themselves as again, only 2-4% of the population, but the female neckbeard autists who populate the social justice circlejerk communities on Tumblr posting two-frame gifs of Mass Effect, Doctor Who and actor interviews with the male cast of Avengers.

Congratulations, you''ve just managed to perfectly express irony.

Posted by DP812

@GrandHarrier said:

@DP812: To be fair, DC claimed the new 52 was a relaunch, not a reboot. Which, we all know, was a pile of lies. But for many people they accepted this company line, so to suddenly have a character take a literal 180 from who and what he is, can be extremely disconcerting. I, personally, think its a stupid move. Rather than introduce a new character and make us like him (like Bunker, I've grown to enjoy him in Teen Titans), Mr. Robinson fundamentally changes an iconic character.

Would people be OK if DC suddenly changed Batwoman to be straight (again, like she was originally). Would it be accepted and celebrated, or decried? If people would take offense to it, why are we unable to take offense to this change?

You're arguing semantics in regards to the relaunch/reboot. Fact of the matter is, the majority of DC's characters HAVE been completely rebooted.

Is Alan Scott still a powerful guy? Yes.

Is he still a Green Lantern? Yes.

Is he still a great hero? Yes.

Is he still a leader the rest of the JSA looks up to? Yes.

Way I see it, the fact that he now sleeps with men instead of women is hardly a literal 180 from who and what he is. His sexuality is not nor has it ever been a defining character trait.

If Alan had been turned into a gay stereotype who spoke with a lisp and made bad jokes like, "I'm the biggest FLAMER around!" then you'd be justified in making the literal 180 shift claim. That's not what's happened, so your complaint seems to be based more on your own personal homophobia than anything else.

Posted by gravitypress

Does a characters sexuality really matter? I applaud that DC is getting more diverse but it feels like they want praise for doing this. With the whole Northstar marriage thing you have a sense of progression to the next step (controversial or not). My real stance though is keep comics comics don't try to turn them into romantic novellas with pictures.

Posted by THEBlaqueBasterd

@DP812: bawwwwhahahahah..... this!!

-_-

Posted by THEBlaqueBasterd

I think the reason this "scares" some ppl (shitty choice of word..disgusts is more accurate if a little offensive).. is the commonality.. when we read comics we like to relate.. now as it happens the vast majority of comic readers are heterosexual 20 -25 yr old men with varying degrees of ignorance intelligence &tolerance.. who wether theyll admit it or not will have varying opinions on homosexuality ignorant or otherwise.. being forced fed a certain characters sexuality is bound to have an adverse effect if they then realise theyre nolonger comfortable imagining themselves in their heroes shoes... so to speak..

Posted by AskaniSon295

Aren't all comicbook characters alternate reality characters. I mean if your primary exposure to Superman was the Smallville t.v. show would not new52 superman be an alternative reality character. Everyone has there own Earth-Prime or simply put the earth/univerese in which they currently enjoy the most, Right Now mines ImageComics90'sEarth/Universe Tommorrow it will Be Earth-1 of the Dc Universe.

Posted by DP812

@gravitypress said:

Does a characters sexuality really matter? I applaud that DC is getting more diverse but it feels like they want praise for doing this. With the whole Northstar marriage thing you have a sense of progression to the next step (controversial or not). My real stance though is keep comics comics don't try to turn them into romantic novellas with pictures.

I doubt Robinson did this for praise. He's just trying to add more diversity in his cast. It seems to be that it's the media making more of an issue about this than DC.

Posted by cbadalucco

This is fucking lame! Alan was such a cool character and now they killed him!

Posted by Vance Astro
@cbadalucco said:

This is fucking lame! Alan was such a cool character and now they killed him!

Please do not use profanity on these forums. Thank You.
Moderator
Posted by gravitypress

@cbadalucco said:

This is f****ng lame! Alan was such a cool character and now they killed him!

How does this kill him?

Posted by KidSupreme

This was a good issue!

Posted by sohanlon07

After listening to your podcast last week I picked up the first few issues of Earth 2 and it is one of the best of the New 52. Absolutely love it. Such depth of character and great to see new heroes taking centre stage. I can't wait until the next issue. Robinson is a great writer.