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 firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don't mind the spoiler before the release of EARTH 2 issue #2, check out the full interview below.== TEASER ==
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 email@example.com. You can also follow James on Twitter @JamesdRobinson. What do you think of the news?