Pride Month Club Discussions. Need a deeper look at this characters in action? Check out these club discussions from across the DCUI.
Pride Profiles: Need a list of Pride Profiles posted on this thread? Check below as we add more through the month of June. Click on the name to go directly to the profile.
Batwoman (Kate Kane)
Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy
Midnighter & Apollo
Green Lantern Alan Scott
Comics Code Authority
Jeffrey Catherine Jones
Element Lad & Shvaughn Erin
Shrinking Violet & Lightning Lass
Danny the Street
Rebis aka Negative Man
James Tynion IV
DC Comics HIV/AIDS ads
Dr. Victoria October
Ivan Velez, Jr.
Mallah & the Brain
Thunder & Grace
Midnight Rider & Seafarer
Pride Research General
Pride Profile: Batwoman. The revamped Kate Kane went from inception to icon in an instant. Introduced in 52 #7, Batwoman headlined Detective Comics before getting her own eponymous series. Whether it’s the striking costume and crimson hair, her history as a military brat and the heir to a fortune, her refusal to lie about her sexuality to stay in the West Point, her connections to DC stalwarts Sawyer and Montoya, or her general butt kicking awesomeness, fans from across the DCU quickly connected with Kate. Although she’s willing to work with her cousin Bruce Wayne, this is no purse toting ‘lady’ Batman willing to take a backseat to anyone. And, where Batman’s focus on his mission can strain even his closest relationships, Kate has shown a more nurturing supportive leadership style that strengthens her ties to her allies. Detective Comic’s Elegy arc by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III starring Batwoman is a masterpiece of story and art that not only helped cement her place in DC history, but introduced one of the greatest villains in decades.
In DC’s Bombshells, Kate is in a league of her own as one of that universe’s favorite characters. Television’s Batwoman debuted in the Arrowverse crossover ‘Elseworlds’ before going on to star in her own show.
The great irony is that the original Batwoman, Kathy Kane, was created in part to dispel any notion that Batman was gay. Decades later, Kate would become the most famous lesbian superhero of all.
DC Bombshells comics were based on a line of figures.
Pride Profile: Harley and Ivy. These two characters were not created with each other in mind, but it seems that way to their passionate fan base. Pamela Lillian Isley first appears in Batman #181 in 1966 to challenge three other women over the title of number one female criminal in Gotham. Robin immediately worries Batman might be falling for femme fatale. Harleen Quinzel joins the DC animated universe as the Clown Prince of Crime’s henchmen in Batman: The Animated Series episode ‘Jokers Favor’ in 1992.
Harley and Ivey first cross paths in a BTAS episode appropriately named “Harley and Ivy” in which Pamela borrows a line from Casablanca telling Harley “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Whatever the magic was that they sparked together, fans, creators, and the animated Batgirl noticed it immediately, though it takes time to bring it to its logical conclusion. In Gotham City Sirens, starring the duo with Catwoman, Harley breaks through talk of friendship and asks Pamela if she loves her. Finally, years after we all knew the truth Palmiotti and Conner’s Harley Quinn series made it a full, undisguised part of both of their lives. Their story, and the story of creators fully understanding these modern characters, took another step forward in the animated Harley Quinn where we find Ivy dealing with her confusing feelings toward her friend and coming to understand her own sexuality.
Ivy and Harley in their initial animated meeting.
Our girls living animated today.
Pride Profile: Apollo and Midnighter. What started as part satire, part over the top ‘90s action comics, developed into something more when this pair of world’s finest became the most prominent gay couple in comics. Created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch for WildStorm’s Stormwatch, they were not revealed as being in love until the follow-on series The Authority. Apollo, an aptly named solar powered superhero, would seem something of the opposite of the dark, ultra-violent Midnighter. But, through multiple reboots and universes these two exemplify a stable loving relationship in a world that is anything but stable or loving. Midnighter has also seen some solo success appearing in his own title and the spy thriller Grayson.
Pride Profile: Jess Chambers. It doesn’t get more current in Pride characters than the newest hero to carry The Flash name, Jess Chambers. They were introduced in 2020 DC’s Very Merry Multiverse by Ivan Cohen as Earth 11’s Teen Titan, Kid Quick. A grown Jess would later cross over from Earth 11 to Earth 0 to warn the Justice League of a new threat in Future State: Justice League. Staying on as a member, this genderfuild speedster and Andy Curry the Aquawoman, brought a much needed touch of humor and romance to the series. There’s little doubt that we haven’t seen the last of Jess.
Jess and Aquawoman as a couple in Future State
Pride Profile: Green Lantern Alan Scott. It doesn’t get more old school - and at the same time, more contemporary - than Alan Scott. Introduced by Martin Nodell in 1940’s All-American Comics #16, Scott joinied the JSA in All Star Comics #3. Nodell’s inspirations ran from Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung opera to a rail worker’s green lantern. Between Scott’s colorful flowing costume and unique magical ring, he cut a powerful figure that was ultimately was only defeated by the sinking of superhero comic sales in the late '40s. When the Green Lantern concept was reintroduced in the Silver Age it was as a space cop, science hero. Scott seemed left behind.
That is until the Flash found Earth 2 and the multiverse was born, introducing new generations to the original Lantern. That original DC universe underwent its own reinvention with Earth 2 in 2012, where Trevor Scott and Nicola Scott brought Alan back as a GL. The circumstances of “the young railroad engineer gaining the magic lantern” are nearly identical, but this version was deeply in love with Sam Zhao, who he intended to marry. In a world whose very existence was threatened by Apokolips, the original Green Lantern once again stood immovable in the path of evil. Finally, these two visions of Alan Scott, both heroic and inspiring, have been blended into one. The Golden Age hero has told his children, Jade and Obsidian, that though he was happy and loved their mother very much, he was not being entirely true to himself and finally revealed that he is gay.
We expect to see far more of this new but long-lived character, including in HBOMax’s Green Lantern series.
Pride Profile: Aqualad Jackson Hyde/Kaldur. Originally developed for the animated Young Justice as Kaldur, Aqualad appeared first in Brightest Day #4 as Jackson Hyde. Though they weren’t identical, over time they seemed to have morphed into essentially the same character. The son of Black Manta and an Atlantean, Jackson was raised in New Mexico far from the ocean with the secret of his heritage and his father kept from him. The struggles dealing with the effects of this unknown past and growing up a young gay black man led Jackson on a journey of discovery that would take him to the deepest depths of the ocean, confrontations with his father and accepting the mantle as one of the future’s greatest heroes.
Pride Profile: Renee Montoya. Everyone’s favorite GCPD detective is another character developed for animated television, but that first appeared in print. While she started as Gordon’s assistant in Batman #475 and as Harvey Bullock’s partner after Batman: The Animated Series episode ‘Pretty Poison,’ the character gained depth and fan recognition with her defining role in Greg Rucka’s Gotham Central. In that seminal series, Renee battled alcoholism, loved and lost her share of women, and fought corruption and crime. Montoya’s profile grew further as one of the pillars of the 52 weekly series where she reluctantly accepted the mantel as the new Question. Renee has also figured into the story of Kate Kane with a brief romantic relationship when they were younger that was rekindled when Batwoman arrived in Gotham. Her latest star turn in Lois Lane proves the character can shift seamlessly between hard boiled detective and superhero roles.
In addition to animation and comics, Renee has appeared in the television’s Gotham and on the big screen in Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey.
Renee’s original animated look
Montoya as The Question
Pride Profile: Pied Piper. Hartley Rathaway is an original Silver Age Flash villian created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino for The Flash #106 in 1959, also the debut issue for Gorilla Grodd. Mastering his flute like his namesake, Rathaway uses his power to control people, commit crimes and generally act like a Rouge. Reimagined with the New 52, the Pied Piper becomes a much more complex and interesting character. Now a reformed Rouge, Piper assists the Flash while dating his Central City PD boss, David Singh, at the same time.
Pride History: Comics Code.
Members of the industry must see to it that gains made in this medium are not lost and that violations of standards of good taste, which might tend toward corruption of the comic book as an instructive and wholesome form of entertainment, will be eliminated.
Critics of early comic books, including Catholic bishops, mother’s groups and others latched on to what they saw as a sense of immorality. This ‘outrage’ exploded with the introduction William Moulton Marston’s Wonder Woman. Psychiatrist Fredic Wertham, was particularly incensed. Of Diana he said “she is a frightening figure for boys…undesirable ideal for girls.” Of female superheroes ”They are not homemakers. They do not bring up a family.” He also thought Wonder Woman’s stories were “plainly lesbian.” And it’s that fear of even hints of homosexuality, that became along with the supernatural and crime the centerpieces of Wertham’s anti-comics screed Seduction of the Innocent and subsequent senate testimony. Wertham presented ‘research’ that young male patients of his were attracted to pro-gay messages presented by Batman and Robin. It would take 60 years before an examination of Wertham’s notes found that he was lying about the two patients he based these broad pronouncements on. The boys described liking the father-son supportive family dynamic of Batman and Robin, but were physically attracted to real life actors like Johnny Weissmuller the former Olympic swimmer who played Tarzan in films.
In reaction to public pressure, the comics industry adopted a ‘voluntary’ code to rein in the more ‘harmful’ aspects of their books. Under the marriage and sex portion of the code, three rules effectively banned the depiction of homosexuality in any form:
(2) Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed.
(4) The treatment of live-romance stories shall emphasize the value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.
(7) Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.
While the code would be revised over the years concerning such things as drug use, the ban on the depiction of gay and lesbian characters remained until 1989. During the interval, writers worked around the rules to some extent creating characters that were LGBT in all but name. Joining Element Lad, Shrinking Violet and Lightening Lass from the Legion of Superheroes was John Byrne’s “Maggie Sawyer who lived with a woman and later admitted that she had spent years trying to deny feelings “a proper Catholic girl didn’t even want to consider.” DC also published books, such as Camelot 3000 outside the umbrella of the code, allowing the book to present Sir Tristan as a transgender woman in love with Isolde. The altering and eventual disappearance of the code has allowed for a blossoming of characters depicting the entire range of humanity.
Comics Code Authority Related Videos by Andrea Gilroy, Ph.D. in Comparative Lit, University of Oregon
For me, one of the interesting aspects of learning more about the development of the Code is that Whertham, like all good villains, is not the two-dimensional mustache twiller we think of him as. He opened a clinic in Harlem to serve Black patients and was cited in school desegregation cases as opposing discrimination in education. This is different than Marston who insisted a Black suspect who failed his “lie detector” by was proven completely innocent, failed the test because he came from a bad family. But, in the end he is a villain, and as discussed above a lier. He knew he was falsifying his findings to support his personal agenda.
Previously on, Harley’s Crew Book Club Wks 42-46: Coding:
@Razzzcat: Coded, bait or both, y’all?
@msgtv: as much about yelling “Stop saying Batman is Gay!”
@Razzzcat: Big Daddy…women don’t randomly shower together
@msgtv: the French were bating me!
@Razzzcat: very bland life
@gwynerso: treated him like a child
@msgtv: I am not Kiteman, I am not Kiteman
@Mae: I would never yell at you
And, now for today’s episode: Cultural Context and Killing the Author, here on DCHC
So, cultural context and coding. If you want to understand the intent of the creators you have to appreciate the society and time they are writing in. Two of the examples our pal @Razzzcat threw out (partly in jest of course) are Batman and Robin sleeping in the same bed and Robin calling Bruce ‘Big Daddy.’ Though I think I more normally see them in twin beds in the same room, either is shall we say weird. But, the creators of these books grew up in working class or working poor homes in large cities during the Depression. People slept in the same beds. There was a time when if you rented a room while traveling, you may have had some strange dude sharing the bed with you. In the context of the times, two males in the same bed would not necessarily have other connotations. Now, “Big Daddy” that one stumped me a little, but the image of a Bowery Boys movies came to me. This multi-ethnic gang of good hearted urban youths used this exact kind of slang in their adventures. @Jay_Kay brought up a similar point. Just watched Bringing up Baby (again) at one point Cary Grant jumps up and down yelling “I’m gay.” Kate Hepburn later says she’ll open up her puss. Language changes. So, this entirely disproves the theory of coding for Batman.
Except for the idea of…
I’m going to gather up some things this week—I’ll be back!
I work at a LCS, and I super love this as a resource for my pride comics pyramid, but what about creators? Writers, artists, colorists? Is DC honoring them/what comics can I feature from them?