What’s Up With Marvel?!?!

Morning folks…

I just thought I would draw your attention to an article that was recently posted over at Prism Comics concerning Marvel Comics and their recent scandalous treatment of gay characters. I was stunned when I read the piece, written by Andy Mangels. It’s really worth taking a peek at it.

As you know I have been a long-time fan of Marvel and it’s characters… but this is pretty crazy stuff. I can only hope they rectify this situation soon, ‘cause it is very disappointing. Judge for yourselves!

If things continue like this, characters like Northstar could soon either be inexplicably transformed into heterosexuals (much in the way Marvel has just done with the Rawhide Kid), or will just plain be killed off.

As I said, pretty scandelous stuff!

Much love, my friend.
Patrick XOXO


  1. Personally I think this is a case of people rising to stimulus because they can, not because they should.

    Yes Rawhide being changed from gay to straight is unfortunate, but given the other things to happen recently in the marvel universe, the treatment of the gay characters is quite inkeeping with the storylines.

    Wiccan and Hulkling are two of the most powerful members of the Young Avengers, it makes sense that they would be singled out, or incapacitated temporarily by an enemy they were fighting. A major part of the YA in the Civil War series, although minor since the series includes so many other characters, is the heartache that Hulkling feels for Wiccan since Wiccan has been captured and sent to jail, a very powerful sentiment on the road to equality showing that the emotional bond is as powerful as any other, gay or straight.

    Oh and for the record, YA is on sabatical for Civil War, but the whole team are currently in Young Avengers/Runaways. Hardly taking the focus off the team.

    Northstar recently got reunited with his sister and brainwashed again, but it looks like he may be on the brink of returning to the X-men, so we can but hope.

    Yes, the gay characters have been treated badly, but so have most of the characters in Civil War, where the main theme is the removal of civil rights. The first major death of Civil War was Goliath, a black american. Does that make it racist? No, its just the way the story played out.

    Which really could lead to our little shining light, in the otherwise straight dominated market, really being extinguished in favour of an easier way of life for the people in charge.

    We have these characters, after so long. Why can’t we just be happy with that, and the fact that they have been treated just the same as the rest of the marvel universe.

    Personally, I think a comic about a gay superhero who is blissfully happy and has very little happen to him in the way of bad experiences would make for boring reading. I want the angst, I want the persecution.

    Marvel may have gone about some of their press releases in a very ill advised way, but I think that the characters exist at all is something to be celebrated.

    Plenty of straight characters have been tortured and badly treated during the current set of Marvel events, Speedball, Cap etc. Focusing on the fact that it’s happening to gay characters, without allowing for the wider picture is dangerous and could lead to unnecesary animosity.

    Sorry for ranting…


  2. T Anderson says

    I think you’re right Gavin.

    Personally, I think a comic about a gay superhero who is blissfully happy and has very little happen to him in the way of bad experiences would make for boring reading. I want the angst, I want the persecution.

    I’m curious, because these notions are at the opposite end of the spectrum in the genre I write for [where a friend of mine just got a harsh review of her m/m novel because she dared portray issues that would arise of her two men being together in a world where they’d persecuted]; do men want to see the struggle for acceptance in their stories, do they want it acknowledged because it’s a very real part of what they have to go through in everyday life?

    Because BL [yaoi] in Japan is for women, the stories never touch on these issues; most fail to even acknowledge the characters as Gay, and yet stateside, creators of western menslove [I call my genre menslove because it’s uniquely western, and not Japanese] do wish to incorporate more reality into the men of their stories, even if it’s just erotic fun; because we know a portion of our readers are men and we don’t want to exclude them.

    Do gay male comic fans [or manga fans] want realistic life issues, or the less realistic and more soap operatic?

    -Tina Anderson

  3. Hello Gavin.

    Wow! A very, very good comment! You raise some very important points that Fraz also mentioned upon reading the article.

    Yes! Straight characters are constantly being tortured, and we make no real fuss about that, mostly because it is par for the course, and as you said, it’s all part of the angst and melodrama.

    But my real beef is with making a gay hero suddenly straight. I mean, Marvel can do whatever they please in the end, and as fans, we only have so much impact on the machine… but I just think that this in particular was a bad move to make, in a time when homosexuality needs to be portrayed in a more positive light to those who don’t quite understand it or need to receive a better education on the subject matter.

    I think if you are going to decide to portray something you should do so in an educated manner. To me this feels like they attempted a publicity stunt by making the statement that the Rawhide Kid was gay, and it didn’t really get the results they were maybe hoping for, so they retracted the statement.

    Most gay people I know don’t get up one morning and suddenly change their sexual orientation.

    Gay people have come a long way toward being accepted, but times are still fragile and it is still important to continue to educate people as best we can, in as positive a manner as we can so that someday none of this even becomes an issue.

    With great power comes great responsibility… Marvel said it themselves. They are a major publisher in the comics industry, and this gives them the power to broach certain topics in their comics and to reach many people. But given this recent decision to revert the Rawhide Kid, I think it is to be expected that people might suddenly jump to the conclusion that these recent acts of torture on their other characters are perhaps all part of an agenda to eliminate the gay aspect from the Marvel Universe.

    Do I personally think Marvel is Gay Bashing…? No. But I do think they are being clumsy and doing things that can be construed as improper, and I can understand the uproar.

    Meanwhile, I think that Goliath’s death is also really unfortunate. Would I call it racist? No. But I think that his death is especially tragic, because he was a positive African-American role model in comics.

    It’s all about positive reinforcement for me. Portraying things in as accurate a light as possible, and being informed about it as best you can. As a publisher, it is a responsibility. You don’t see me drawing African-American characters that wake up one morning suddenly being Caucasian for example?

    Gavin, thank you so much for this amazing opening comment! I truly respect your point of view, and think that you have given us all food for thought!

    Hugz + Kisses
    Patrick XOXO

  4. Hello Tina…

    Another great comment! Thank you so much!

    Very good point! Do we want realism, or soap opera melodrama? I certainly can’t speak for all Gay readers, but I can speak for myself. I think it is essential that any minority group be portrayed in a proper and accurate light.

    I guess I just get nervous when I think of who has the power in our world, and who ultimately influences decision making.

    I love melodrama, and I have always equated the X-Men’s struggles as mutants to what Gay people might face in their lives — the fear and the hate, born of miseducation and bigotry. The X-Men go through it all the time, and in that way, I think Marvel has been more successful in depicting the struggles of certain minorities than when they actually attempt to depict Gay as being Gay.

    I would get bored in a rose-tinted world. That’s not why I turn to comics and I expect a certain amount of melodrama mixed in with realism.

    But in this case, I can’t help but wonder if the realism isn’t happening behind the scenes more than on the printed page.

    All in all, I think I am just getting tried of the persecution, and perhaps that makes me see it where it isn’t always happening. But what if it is happening?

    All of this is just great food for thought, I think. Both you and Gavin have made some spectacular comments that can only add to the better understanding of what is really going on!

    Much Love!
    Patrick! XOXOX

  5. This is very disappointing, to see sexual orientation is being juggled around like it’s the death of a character. It’s not, and I can agree with marvel on some points, you have to be careful with such a sensitive issue in massive things, Marvel’s big, and I mean big. They are a corporation that pulls in quite a bit of money and they do not want to take a hit from their fans or loose a large portion, which they have a nice sized of gay readers. I have faith in them, I’m not as old as you guys but I’m not young, so I have not been around the Marvel fandom and news clips and interviews on gay characters and different races being singled out. But I have faith Marvel knows what they are doing and that’s just about all we can do other than talk about it.

    Now I for one, don’t mind seeing the characters I love in danger, pain and suffering. This gives it a strong emotion and makes you care for that character more. Your sitting there thinking,”Is s/he gunna make it?” and if they don’t, realization that comics have come a long way and will kill characters off brutally or naturally.

    I agree totally with everything said here, I mean Prism comics is a gay, lesbian, homosexual- whatever site. It’s going to be focused on “bashing” Marvel is probably getting bashed with unneeded questions and they aren’t even sure on how they are going to answer so they answer with a “head liner’ or a “holding.’ Too buy time and just keep people satisfied. In this case it is a head liner on Prism Comics because it concerns what they are about, and it may take a backseat to other major things going on and nothing will be decided until things are done. Talk is talk and talk is very cheap. Marvel just may surprise us- or they perhaps will condemn themselves to a large error and fix it immediately with as much class (Haha Patrick XP) and dignity they can. I don’t think Marvel would make such a big move without something else to hold they gay characters in tow. Marvel covers everything, no ones getting left behind.

    Sorry for my little rant~

  6. Charlie MJR says

    Patrick, I’m with you on this all the way. I am actully a marvel fan, collection x-men, avengers and wolverine, and several more… but I’ve not been able to by many comics lately cause of costs involved, so I’ve not been up on the situation with what they were doing.

    I can’t believe this, I can’t believe they would turn a gay character straight. The only explanation was that the writers didn’t want to write about a gay cowboy and changed it. I brought the rawhide kid… which wasn’t that impressive really, but it did give a mild impression that maybe marvel were going something with a gay character… well thats all changed now.

    And yes, they are either killing and torturing most of the gay characters in the marvel universe… there arn;t that many gay characters in it, and the ones that are are being treated like shit!

    You know what this says, it says to comic readers, young young readers, that if the rawhide kid can turn from gay to straight over-night, then other gay people can too, what kind of a F**King message is that sending out!!

    Nick, your right marvel is a big company, in fact its so big now it should be able to afford to give something back to the gay readers once in a while, sort of like giving the last slice of cake to a gay person after the dogs pissed on it! This makes me so mad!

    Marvel better get there act together and start regarding the gay community in there comics with more seriousness! The concept of ‘Mutants’ in the marvel world is meant to play enormously well with young gay men, but given that only 1 mutant, in the lists of thousends of other mutants, is the only gay mutant, thats just unbelieveable!

    They need to take a page from wildstorm comics… which I’ve been reading more then marvel now, because of the wonderous Authority series, and its two leading out characters Apollo and Midnigher… in fact Midnighter is set to have his own comic series very soon!

    I always looked up to marvel, but recently its becoming harder to do so.

  7. Charlie MJR says

    Also, I know what you mean Patrick about getting tired of the persecution, and lack of basic rights to us, it makes you want to attack someone for the smallest derogitory thing said agaisnt you.

    Here, I sent and e-mail to Andy after reading his article, saying how great it was that he said all that, and he replied to me saying that he told marvel this, and they are publicly pooh-poohing it all and saying it’s not an issue.

    Well, will wonders never end.

  8. Well I guess I’ll be the proverbial black sheep and go the other way with my reaction to the mess. I definetely think Marvel has made a conscious decision to methodically bring down and silence each of its gay characters– one way or another.

    In their defense though, it’s not like any of these were anything to speak of anyway. The word “gay” is never even printed in any of the comics featuring these gay characters. The subject is eluded to and danced around and we as the adult readers are supposed to pick up on it.

    Which brings me to another point which I think should be mentioned as a motive. Comics in general have seen a huge resurgence of YOUNGER readers because of the whole superhero boom here in the USA. In recent years, there has been an exponential growth in the number of superhero movies and TV shows, making comics more popular than ever. Of course Marvel is going to curtail any instance of homosexuality in their books. The more readers, the better. Big business before artistic integrity– it’s the American way.

    Marvel knows they have a big gay fan base, but the tween / young kid market is sooo much more valuable. If they were going to choose which to alienate, duh, it’s going to be fags.

    What’s going to happen is this: the ONLY gay characters to exist in Marvel will be Northstar, Hulkling and Wiccan and their appearances will be few and fleeting.

    Okay, so I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist. I know. I’m just glad that alternative and underground comics are around. I’ll never expect a multi-million dollar conglomerate like Marvel to be receptive to the voices of minorities.

    AAAAND, of the hundreds and I mean HUUUUNDREDS of superheroes in the Marvel Universe, did they really have to choose one of the like 6 Black ones to be the first to die in Civil War? I’m just saying!

  9. Hey Patrick and everyone else just wanted to throw my hat into the ring here. First off in regards to the death of Goliath, I myself am a black male and despite the cliche of “the black guy dying first”, I’m not surprised nor especially bitter about it.

    This mostly comes from the fact that up until I read Civil War did I know that there was even a Goliath character who was black. And quite frankly, the only thing that made him different from other heroes with the same abilities is skin color, and I would much rather see more black characters with their own unique skills than “just another giant character”.

    As for the abuse of the gay/lesbian characters in YA/Runaways, everyone is focused on the “hidden message” of gay-bashing, but anyone who actually read the issue will know that the person who has them captured has no idea of their sexual orientation and is more interested in the fact that Hulkling and Lucy are both aliens (which he admits he has experimented on before) and that Wiccan possesses innate abilites that intrigue him also. In fact these characters attributes came about long before their sexual orientation, so to say they were singled out due to their sexuality is ludicrous.

    And why was there no fanfare from Prism for Northstar’s recent re-appearance? Despite his current brainwashed status, the issue where he and his sister return the author goes out of his way to display just how bloody powerful he is, as shown when he incapacitates such powerhouses as Cyclops, Cannonball, Colossus and Wolverine within mere seconds.

    Is it too much to mention the accolades of gay characters, but the instant they stub their toes, or find themself in harm’s way( which these characters are bound to find themselves in, they are superheroes for Pete’s sake) the alarm is sounded for gay bashing?

    Just seems silly to me.

    Anyway enough with the ranting and hope I didn’t step on any toes.

    And don’t despair Pat, just remember that you have your own assortment of great homsexual characters who will never be made straight unless you say so, and quite frankly, the idea of a straight Space Cadet seems like a waste to me, so don’t even think about it!! ;)

  10. I was just reading Newsarama’s new Joe Friday’s and the whole Rawhide thing came up. Basically, Quesada said that the whole thing was just a mistake, that the writer was trying to make some sense out of Rawhide’s continuity and basically stuffed up, and that he does consider Slap Leather (and Rawhide being gay) to be in continuity.

    Still not sure if I actually believe this though, considering it was Quesada who basically used Freedom Ring as a shield, saying he was living proof that Marvel wasn’t anti-gay, only to have him killed off pretty brutally less than a month later. I guess it’ll just be a matter of time before we find out if today’s interview was just spin control or if he was actually being sincere.

    That having been said, I am kinda pissed about the whole Freedom Ring thing. I don’t think he was killed because he’s gay (the character was probably created with the intention of being killed), but it did really bug me when they used the character to cover their asses when the issue where he died a pretty bad death had probably already gone to press. That panel they showed of Freedom Ring being impaled at the Prism article article just didn’t seem necessary either, given that the character was already dead at the time. He’d just had a spike shoved through his chin and coming up out of his head, but for some reason it was just necessary to give his body another 30 holes? (there are some scans here if you’re interested – http://superunderwearperverts.blogspot.com/2006/09/marvel-fuck-up.html)

    Anyway, even though Marvel’s made a few mistakes recently, I still think that overall they’re doing a really good job on the gay front. Northstar’s back, Anole from New X-Men seems to be getting more screen time and Hulkling and Wiccan are two of the most realistic gay characters I’ve seen in a mainstream comic, so the complaints I do have are pretty minor ones.

  11. Hey Patrick!

    I can see your dilema and frustration with this. As with everone elses.

    Who knows why comic companies decide to do this? It’s an answer that no one can truely give unless we are a fly on the meeting room wall.

    A few things do come to mind and I have seen it happen in Australia, sometimes there is preasure from parent groups not wanting their children worshiping a gay hero in mainstream comics, religious groups also come to mind, right wing political wankers also come to mind. But I will be honest, we will never know the real truth.

    But let’s read between the lines also, maybe this is all publicity to stir up interest in the characther, maybe they want the gay community to speak out so they can proove to whoever they need to proove something to that there are gay readers out there who want gay super heroes in mainstream comics. Again, this is just speculation.

    Sometimes as gay men, we tend not to speak out enough about issues in society that piss us off and we let it slide. If people are so upset by the latest move by Marvel Comics, I suggest setting up an online petition, emailing Marvel and let them know how you feel, at the end of the day they might think we have no interest in gay super heroe’s in mainstream comics, and this is because we haven’t told them.

    What I am saying people is to voice your opinions to the people that need to hear them, whispers don’t get heard.


  12. Hey again Patrick.

    I must say, the treatment of the Rawhide Kid has appalled me, but I am choosing to see it as a continuity error other than biased treatment based on the other characters. My only issue with the Prism article was that they seemed to be taking the issue of the Rawhide kid, and blowing it out of preportion to encorporate the entirety of the marvel universe, when other than the Rawhide Kid, the characters are actually really well written and well treated as a general rule.
    I completely agree with you, and prism, on the issue of changing a characters sexuality. But the storylines where the treatment of gay characters tends to bend towards the negative…

    Well within the context of the marvel universe, its actually quite realistic, and I dont think we should jump of the handle till we have seen the entirety of the storyarc, as the horrendous circumstances may just lead to some vey affirming, strong and supportive writing between the gay characters themselves, or the gay characters and their friends in the way they support them through difficult times.

    As for Freedom Ring… He was just plain bad. I read a couple of issues and got all excited that he was gay, then saw how badly written he was and what kind of name/powers theyd given him and just wished the pain would go away. I’m kinda glad hes gone and the violent way in which he died… well I think it was more for dark humor than anything else. The spike through his “crotch and anus” or however it is described, was one of many and I doubt it was done intentionally.

    Thanks for such a thought provoking Blog. Its a nice change once in a while, even though I adore the beautiful men lol.

    Gotta stretch the old brainmuscles once in a while.

    x x x

  13. Good morning everybody…

    I just wanted to take a few moments and thank you all for your amazing comments and opinions, and for taking the time to share them here with all of us! I know this is a touchy topic, and that we all have different impressions of the situation at hand.

    Hopefully, there is no great conspiracy going on and we can all breathe easy. Regardless, I think it is important for us to keep supporting our gay characters in the Marvel Universe as there are only just a few and to voice our opinions whenever we feel they are being treated unequally by the writers.

    Gay characters may have come a long way in mainstream comics, but they still have a ways to go. It’s important the big boys know that we gay fans are appreciative of the inclusion of gay characters, but that we are also watching…!

    Much love to every one of you!
    Patrick XOXOXO

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