Out, Out And Away: Superman Comes Out As Bisexual
Issue #5 ushers in the pivotal character development for John Kent as he enters in a relationship with Jay Nakamura, a zealous reporter and activist. The writer of the series, Tom Taylor, defended the move to not miss an opportunity to expand the sort of heroes that DC wants to represent instead of the straight white man that it chose until now. The writers and makers of the issue want queer individuals and young readers to see themselves as the hero too and not just a sidekick (referring to Robin and Harley Quinn, who are also part of the LGBTQIA+ community).
Role Of A Woke Superman
Superman is being introduced as a member of the community to involve DC more and more with the fight for queer rights and justice. They want Superman to be the poster boy for sensitisation and inclusivity especially in the mind of young readers. Prioritizing the ones that may identify with the character more. Apart from this, John Kent is also a global activist who will be seen fighting for or against major social issues. Along with intergalactic adventures and fighting off alien forces, he will make sure to protect the planet from climate and humanitarian crises. A fervor activist like his mother will showcase what it takes to be truly human and not just superhuman.
Bold, Brave, Or Neither
While many are praising the move as forward and much needed. Some people have other views on their minds. Dean Cain, the actor who starred as Superman in Lois & Clark: The New Adventure of Superman, from 1993-97, cited the act as ‘bandwagoning’. He shares the sentiments of many others that the move ‘would have been sensational 20 years ago.’ Superman coming out as bisexual and attracting the status of bold doesn’t bode well with some people who think that LGBTQIA rights are not food for capitalists’ hunger. This move also comes after the new Captain America came out as gay, convincing the claims that Superman coming out as bi might have something to do with numbers and competition between the rival comic universes.
Writers behind the new Superman issue believe that their decision to drape Superman in a rainbow flag is not to get behind a trend but to do something that should have been done earlier. To instill the message that ‘Man of Steel’ is not reserved for a cis, straight man. A superhero has traits that make him/her physically superior but that does not have to reflect on their sexuality/gender identity.
The Whys And The Why Nots
While there are many comic characters that are also part of the queer community in both MCU and DC universe, it’s the correct portrayal of their stories that will get the comic magnates a green line to inclusivity. What irks a queer person or an ally is how obsessively a writer tries to make a point about a queer character’s sexuality or gender identity. The storyline presses hard on making them known as ‘different’. Moreover, in doing so they often inculcate stereotypical or rather offensive cues to highlight their sexuality/gender identity. What a queer comic character requires is a storyline that focuses on their other traits, their own origin story instead of just making them Joan of Arc for LGBTQIA+ rights. Portray them just as any cis, straight character; add more to their existence in the story than just their sexuality/gender identity.
Marvel portrayed Valkyrie (who according to MCU and the comics is gay) as they did any other cis, straight character. They did however drop hints about her sexuality using sapphic subtexts, which was well-received by critics. That is what we hope they do with John Kent, make him see the world (that he has to save!) how he would see it and not how pop culture sees it through the lens of a queer person.
It’s a plane, it’s a bird. No, it’s Superman, hero for not one but all.
Cover Illustration: Gurleen Kaur