Posted by Baddamdog (2224 posts) - - Show Bio

In Avengers Academy #23, it will be revealed that Veteran AA member Striker is gay and newcomer Julie Power is bisexual:

Not only this, but Striker reveals he was sexually abused in his youth:

This is another major change to Avengers Academy including a new base of operations, teachers leaving, new teachers, students leaving, lots of new students, a regenisis tie-in, a death of an Avenger and a major plot twist regarding Reptil. Many regard these changes as an attempt to boost the un-exciting sales estimates the series has been producing. But are these major changes a natural progression of character or just a cheap attempt to boost sales?

Undoubtedly this will bring up the age old debate about changing a previously established character's sexuality. One that even writers have commented on in the past. Many are familiar with Rob Liefeld's comments about his creation Rictor's sexuality being changed:

“… I have nothing against gays, I have gay family, nuthin’ but love here,”he wrote on his message board (registration required). “Ditto gay characters if that’s what their true origins are.
“As the guy that created, designed and wrote his first dozen appearances, Shatterstar is not gay. Sorry. Can’t wait to someday undo this. Seems totally contrived.”

However, while Striker has been with lots of women and has constantly shown flirting with other females, Gage stated quite early on in his twitter that he always knew about Striker's sexuality, including hints about his sexuality from way back in issue #5.

While gay heroes are appearing more and more frequently in comics, the coming out process is one that isn't often showcased in superhero comics. Characters either debut as gay (Batwoman) or their coming out happens off-panel (Rictor and Shatterstar). How much of Striker's internal coping and self-realization will be highlighted in "Avengers Academy"?
Gage: Hopefully, a fair amount. Whether Striker likes it or not, it's going to be an ongoing process for him. He may think it's as simple as saying, "Okay, I'm out," and that's it, but it's going to be more complicated. It's interesting that you mention how most superhero characters' coming out hasn't been tackled directly; that's one of the reasons I didn't make Striker an out gay guy from the start. We've come a long way in terms of there being positive depictions of gay youth in popular culture; what we haven't seen as much of is kids who are struggling with their sexuality, and I wanted to acknowledge that experience. Conditions today are a lot better than they've been in the past, but not every gay kid lives in New York or San Francisco -- a lot of them have to face bullying from their peers and disapproval from adults, telling them there's something wrong with them -- which has led to tragic suicides. Right now in North Carolina, which is my wife's home state and a place I love, there's a measure on an upcoming ballot to impose a state constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage -- and North Carolina is one of only two Southern states (along with New Mexico) that, up to now, hasn't had one. So what I wanted to say to gay kids who may still be struggling with who they are is not just "it gets better" but "you're not alone." I wanted their experience -- in a general sense, obviously it's different for everyone -- to be reflected in what they read. That there are other kids who may be struggling with this, and you don't have to be Batwoman from the get-go -- there may be a journey to getting there.
In Striker's case, though, it's not only about being gay. His personal struggles have a lot to do with the fact that he was sexually abused as a child, by the man who served as his acting manager at the time. My wife and I wrote for "Law & Order: SVU," which led to doing a good amount of research on child sexual abuse and its effects. And quite often, whether the abuse survivor is gay or straight, they end up struggling with their sexuality in general. Some avoid or repress it, either because it's too painful to deal with or because they somehow blame themselves for what happened. When Striker began to feel he might be attracted to males, he wondered if that was who he was as a person, or if it was the influence of his (male) abuser somehow affecting him -- a thought that deeply disturbed him and made him want to reject those feelings. The process most of us go through, where we figure out what kind of people we are attracted to -- I don't mean being gay or straight, necessarily, just whether we're drawn to certain personalities or body types or whatever -- was a minefield for him. It's very painful for abuse survivors, because they can question their own sexuality and frequently blame themselves for what happened -- as Striker did, wondering if he somehow encouraged the abuser because he enjoyed the attention of a father figure, or if being gay, even before he had any awareness of his sexual orientation, somehow meant he brought it on himself. (In point of fact, most child abusers who target children of the same sex identify as straight, and have no interest in adults of the same sex.) So I also wanted to reach out to abuse survivors and say: 1) It's not your fault. That's actually one of the things abusers count on -- that the victim will blame themselves and avoid talking about it to anyone. And 2) You're not alone. Others struggle with this too.
In Striker's specific case, the journey is about being an abuse survivor as well as coming out. Now that Julie has given him the support he needs to discover his sexual orientation at his own pace, he's going to be able to focus more on the coming out process -- and being Striker, he'll probably make some colossal blunders along the way. But hey, how many of us look back at our earliest dating experiences and think, "You know what? I got that exactly right!"

While Striker is still relatively a brand new character, Julie power has been around for a few decades. Is it okay for writers to change such drastic aspects of such old characters? Arguably, Julie has basically been a child all her comic career and has only recently started to be shown to be growing into teenage hood (See The Loners), leaving these issues wide open for writers to pick up on.

What do you guys think? Are you shocked by these reveals? Do you see them as cheap writing ploys to bring in sales or as essential character developments? Do you think revealing previously established characters as Lesbian, Gay or Bi is wrong or just a realistic representation of today?

In my opinion I think Julie puts it across very well:

"Everyone's all 'pick a side'... When I have feelings for a person, it's for that person. Not their gender. Can't you just like someone without it being a political statement?"

Right on sista.

#1 Posted by SC (13307 posts) - - Show Bio
"age old debate about changing a previously established character's sexuality" 
 
To be honest, I always thought the old age debate was some fans being vehemently insistent that they magically know and understand a fictional character well enough to know their sexual orientation and using a flawed understanding of continuity as the excuse *grin*  
 
I thought Julie being bisexual was already suggested (but this is sort of like the heavy confirmation) Oh anyway, will read more, thank you for all the info and nice thread! 
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#2 Posted by WarMachineMarkV (1214 posts) - - Show Bio

- It's nice to see that for a change the idea of making a character(s) LGBT-status is used to have realistic, serious discussions about the subject, and not just tossed in then never touched upon again to fill some invisible quota so the company can say they are proactive.

- Having Living Lightning out himself by mistake to the Great Lakes Avengers then disappear in shame when he realized they were not the Gay and Lesbian Alliance sends the wrong message.

- I just hope that they do not try to define them by this, but instead make it a part of what defines them so they do not end up being a stereotype trotted out here and there. Flesh them out as complete characters so they can be appreciated by all kinds of fans.

(Note this is the point of view of a white straight guy)

#3 Posted by Decoy Elite (30041 posts) - - Show Bio

On the subject of changing a characters sexuality, I have to say I could not care less. As long as it's not some crazy out of character thing (like making a character who's sexual orientation is well established to the opposite side) I'm cool with it. Even if it wasn't the original creator's intentions, there's still much worse ways to go against the original intentions of a character. 

#4 Posted by Baddamdog (2224 posts) - - Show Bio

@SC: lol referring to anything specific? ;)

oh and thanks!

@WarMachineMarkV: I trust Cage that he won't let it define their characters, Striker will probably always be a major A-Hole lol!

#5 Posted by Mayo88m (246 posts) - - Show Bio

It was already revealed she was bisexual. Hazmat called her out on it in one of the previous two issues. Forgot which one.

#6 Posted by PrinceIMC (5422 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it was already revealed, or at least implied, that Striker was molested too. When they told his origin.

#7 Posted by Gambit1024 (9890 posts) - - Show Bio

Huh. Good on Striker.

#8 Posted by Hawkeye446 (3939 posts) - - Show Bio

Interesting - I didn't pick up on Striker! I think it is exciting - and definitely not a gimmick.

I think it is an essential character trait that they are now revealing after a decent amount of time. I mean, if it had of been right off that bat, Striker's characters may have been perceived differently. At the moment, he is well established ad this only gives him a chance to grow.

Can't wait for the next issue (LAURA)!!!!!

#9 Edited by lykopis (10746 posts) - - Show Bio

I have picked up Avengers Academy but had yet to read this far. I enjoyed it actually. I can see they really tried to give Striker justice in revealing what he did and they touched on some real concerns that many young people grapple with when identifying their sexuality. There is more here than just, who is gay, who is bi-sexual - is about sexual molestation as well and how it can affect a young person. I appreciate it - there could be many fans reading this and just seeing it could maybe motivate them into getting help, or at the very least begin the process of the internal dialogue needed to get better. Just that alone made this worth it, in my opinion.

Thank you for this blog, and I agree with the last quote. So true.

#10 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio

Oh thank God. The last time I saw Julie Power she was about 5, I thought this was going to be the creepiest thread ever.  

#11 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29510 posts) - - Show Bio

@FadeToBlackBolt said:

Oh thank God. The last time I saw Julie Power she was about 5, I thought this was going to be the creepiest thread ever.

LMFAO.

Anyway, looking back on vol 1(all I've read so far), this is brilliant writing. He was totally overcompensating and it was totally obvious in hindsight. Dunno much about Julie though.

#12 Posted by PrinceIMC (5422 posts) - - Show Bio

And where are the other Power kids? I mean Alex is in Future Foundation but wouldn't the other two....Jack and Katie I think....benefit from some Avenger training? Is it just Julie because she was in Loners? Notice how the other Loners show up here too. (Though I think Gateway should take 'Hollow' to Wolverine's new school, it can echo her arrival as Penance.)

#13 Posted by JediXMan (31258 posts) - - Show Bio

I have a real problem with Striker being gay.
 
I don't have a problem with gay people in general. Just not him. His origin story involves him almost being / being molested by his manager as a child. It just seems like it is in really bad taste.

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#14 Posted by moywar700 (2775 posts) - - Show Bio

gay in comics adds realism which is good sometimes i guess

#15 Posted by moywar700 (2775 posts) - - Show Bio

and no teenage book is complete without drama and lgbt's =o

#16 Posted by Kairan1979 (16900 posts) - - Show Bio
@JediXMan said:
I have a real problem with Striker being gay.  I don't have a problem with gay people in general. Just not him. His origin story involves him almost being / being molested by his manager as a child. It just seems like it is in really bad taste.
And let's not forget how messed up his childhood was, thanks to his Mom.
#17 Posted by Baddamdog (2224 posts) - - Show Bio

@Mayo88m: I know, but that was more of a hint, this is like a slap in the face ;)

@JediXMan: How so?

#18 Posted by Doctor!!!!! (2055 posts) - - Show Bio

Not Julie.... I remember her in Power Pack and now shes a teen who should be on "Skins", where have I been?!

#19 Posted by Mayo88m (246 posts) - - Show Bio

@Baddamdog: Yeah, guess you're right. It was really more of a hint. Julie didn't actually acknowledge it.

#20 Posted by phrainiac_crazeee (16 posts) - - Show Bio

woah, this is some pretty messed up stuff (i mean what happened to striker) @Kairan1979: and that scan is pretty messed up too!

its just goes to show you how in the comic world (and also in real life) how messed up events and influences in one's childhood/past COULD change people for the worse. people arent just born bad people (most of them anyway, lol)

#21 Posted by Mutant God (3081 posts) - - Show Bio

I really wanna called this an act just to get into Julie's pants because I think Stryker is that type of guy who would do that.

#22 Edited by -Vigil- (380 posts) - - Show Bio

“… I have nothing against gays, I have gay family, nuthin’ but love here,”he wrote on his message board (registration required). “Ditto gay characters if that’s what their true origins are.

“As the guy that created, designed and wrote his first dozen appearances, Shatterstar is not gay. Sorry. Can’t wait to someday undo this. Seems totally contrived.”

Truer words have never been spoken. Thanks for ruining Renee Montoya for me, writers. And they changed Julie Power TWICE! She was straight, then gay, then bi? Argh!

#23 Posted by Baddamdog (2224 posts) - - Show Bio

@Mutant God: that would be despicable! But totally a Striker thing to do

#24 Posted by JediXMan (31258 posts) - - Show Bio
@Baddamdog said:

@Mayo88m: I know, but that was more of a hint, this is like a slap in the face ;)

@JediXMan: How so?

Because he was molested, almost as if to say that could have turned him gay or that he "enjoyed it" in some way. It just feels wrong. I wouldn't mind if it was Reptil or if the molestation wasn't part of Striker's origin, but it is. I just think it's poor taste.
 
The only one I outright would mind being gay is Mettle, only because I like the Mettle and Hazmat relationship.
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#25 Posted by Superguy0009e (2265 posts) - - Show Bio

idk, changing teen characters gay is something marvel does alot, and i think that if they arent careful, it could be come unnecessary ,repetitive, and offensive.

be careful marvel

#26 Posted by MatKrenz (1234 posts) - - Show Bio

Seeing as how Gage created all of the AA nobody will complain about this. But I will have to read the issue before I put out my opinion this.

#27 Posted by DEADPOOL (2710 posts) - - Show Bio

Juicy stuff, always interesting.

#28 Posted by Video_Martian (5645 posts) - - Show Bio

Damn, now i gotta start reading Avengers Academy :P

#29 Posted by ComicMan24 (147115 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't mind him being gay, just seems a bit out of the blue to me.

#30 Edited by Baddamdog (2224 posts) - - Show Bio

Gotta say, response to this has been much more positive than I thought, which of course is a good thing!

#31 Posted by ApatheticAvenger (1636 posts) - - Show Bio

@Baddamdog said:

Gotta say, response to this has been much more positive than I thought, which of course is a good thing!

Well, it was a good article. ;)

It's nice to see a Marvel writer really fleshing out the characters they've created, giving them more depth. I've always been neutral on the whole Shatterstar situation, I've never cared enough about the character for it to concern me one way or the other. Now if only Namor would finally come out of the closet...

#32 Posted by Baddamdog (2224 posts) - - Show Bio

@ApatheticAvenger: Thank you! :D

#33 Edited by Cafeterialoca (1505 posts) - - Show Bio

Not only this, but Striker reveals he was sexually abused in his youth:

Um, we know this. This was said way back in issue 5.

And it's Reptil, not Raptor, and Gage, not Cage.

#34 Edited by Cafeterialoca (1505 posts) - - Show Bio

@mr.obvious: You Should!

@-Vigil-: Gage does damage control. He likes fixing characters who get screwed over by other writers. See Speedball and Tigra beatings.

@Doctor!!!!!: Runaways and Loners. Both those series aged her up (and made her into a "lesbian")

#35 Posted by Baddamdog (2224 posts) - - Show Bio

@Cafeterialoca: I didn't say 'it's revealed to us that Striker was sexually abused', I said ' Striker reveals he was sexually abused in his youth'. Which he does, to Julie.

#36 Posted by Vance Astro (91368 posts) - - Show Bio

I forsee a threesome.

Moderator
#37 Posted by Baddamdog (2224 posts) - - Show Bio

@Vance Astro: Loooooool, between who?

#38 Posted by Vance Astro (91368 posts) - - Show Bio
@Baddamdog said:

@Vance Astro: Loooooool, between who?

I don't know i'm just saying things.
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#39 Posted by Cafeterialoca (1505 posts) - - Show Bio

@Baddamdog: Ooooooooooooooh. It was the wordplay.

@Baddamdog: Most likely Mettle. Everyone digs Mettle.

#40 Posted by difficlus (10679 posts) - - Show Bio

@FadeToBlackBolt said:

Oh thank God. The last time I saw Julie Power she was about 5, I thought this was going to be the creepiest thread ever.

ROFL!

#41 Posted by Baddamdog (2224 posts) - - Show Bio

Do you guys think they'll give Striker a boyfriend in the series?

#42 Posted by ComicMan24 (147115 posts) - - Show Bio

@Baddamdog said:

Do you guys think they'll give Striker a boyfriend in the series?

Don't see this happening anytime soon. I mean he just admitted that he is gay. Don't think he is ready for that yet.

#43 Edited by fodigg (6148 posts) - - Show Bio

@Baddamdog said:

In Avengers Academy #23, it will be revealed that Veteran AA member Striker is gay and newcomer Julie Power is bisexual:

Not only this, but Striker reveals he was sexually abused in his youth:

This is another major change to Avengers Academy including a new base of operations, teachers leaving, new teachers, students leaving, lots of new students, a regenisis tie-in, a death of an Avenger and a major plot twist regarding Reptil. Many regard these changes as an attempt to boost the un-exciting sales estimates the series has been producing. But are these major changes a natural progression of character or just a cheap attempt to boost sales?

I don't even care what it is, that's a very honest and frank (and I'd say agreeable) perspective on two topics that are hotly debated. I want an issue of that comic now so I can save it and leave it around the house when I have kids. Just so they'll have an answer somewhere to all the vitriol out there these days. Of course, hopefully things will be better by the time that's necessary.

#44 Posted by Jubilantlad (318 posts) - - Show Bio

@ComicMan24: I haven't read the issue, but he seems uncertain so while they might not give him a boyfriend, they might show him making out with a boy, to see how he feels about it.

#45 Posted by Kairan1979 (16900 posts) - - Show Bio

@Baddamdog: I don't know about Striker, but they already gave Julie a girlfriend - Karolina Dean from Runaways.