On -isms: Justice League 3001

By | Thursday, June 25, 2015 Leave a Comment
So Bleeding Cool pointed to the new Justice League 3001 #1 that was released yesterday, and found some... uncomfortable dialogue. There's a fair amount that I'm not inclined to reproduce here, so go check out the Bleeding Cool piece if you want to read it for yourself.

Let's set aside the trans discussion for a second before we get started. The first thing I see when I flipped through the book is a lack of color. We're a thousand years in the future, and everyone is still the exact same shade of white. The creators have deliberately re-imagined the current heroes from today -- wipe the slate clean; they could be anybody in a century -- and there's actually FEWER people of color than in the current 2015 iteration.

Second, DC's premier superhero, Superman, the pinacle of what all heroes are supposed to be, is depicted as a sexist asshole. I mean, we're still not even at the issue of a trans Green Lantern yet, and Supes is making lude comments about the character's ass TO HIS GIRLFRIEND! This is not a villain we're talking about here, this is Superman. SUPERMAN. Even when Frank Miller made him into a government stooge for The Dark Knight Returns, he was still portrayed pretty honorably. This characterization quickly shows the character to be an asshole that isn't to be liked or respected. And even if that's the whole point (if you really want to give the benefit of the doubt) it's being done in a very crude and ham-fisted fashion. Even if there's a valid story reason to make readers dislike Superman (!) it's poorly written.

Now, with that out of the way, we'll tackle the trans issue. Evidently Guy Gardner's mind has been transferred into a woman's body. (Or something like that. I'm not sure how injecting a strand of DNA into someone would totally alter their person's mind. That's not even decent comic book science!) Superman flatly refuses to consider Green Lantern a man because lady parts. Batman and Flash both seem to acknowledge Guy is a man, just stuck within a woman's body, but both of them let Superman's opinion steam-roller over them. Okay, we're really hammering home the Superman-is-an-asshole thing (again, this is -- at best -- inelegant writing) but then there's no follow-up rebuttal. Superman goes on and on about how Green Lantern is a woman, but the sole arguement Batman provides is ten words long. Readers are effectively being shown that there is no way to counter Superman's lady parts arguement, and a person's gender identity is squarely reliant upon what their genetalia look like.

Even if you're trying to show just how much of an asshole Superman is, by not even showing another perspective, you're not providing any reason for readers to think he's wrong. I mean, seriously, the biggest reason given to show that Green Lantern identifies as male is that his name is "Guy."

You want to show Superman's an asshole? Fine. But how about do it and provide a modicum of respect for the trans community? With essentially no other trans characters shown on a month-to-month basis, this Green Lantern winds up bearing the weight of all transgender people and issues on his shoulders. And if nobody bothers setting Superman straight on the issue, how are any of the readers supposed to know he's wrong? DC is treating the one regular trans character they have as a punchline and, by association, they're suggesting that all trans people are worthy of derision and ridicule.

And the part that really irks me? Even if writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis themselves don't have any respect for trans people, and even if the editors agreed with them, shouldn't someone have said, "Hey, maybe we don't want to blatantly disrespect a large group of people like this; that can't be good PR"? Seriously, DC, this is really not cool.

I think the Has DC Comics Done Something Stupid Today clock needs to be reset.
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