Published on July 4th, 2012 | by Joe Glass0
Tales from the Four Colour Closet – Women in Refrigerators, Gay Men in Bullet Trains
Earth 2 #3 comes out following up on what has happened to newly gay hero Alan Scott and his boyfriend Sam after we last saw their bullet train in Japan explode (as Scott was proposing to Sam as well).
Well, it seems in 2012, DC has had their update of the Women in Refrigerators concept, this time for the gays.
For those not in the know, Women in Refrigerators was an article and discussion, the phrase itself coined by Gail Simone, in response to 1994’s Green Lantern #54, by Ron Marz, that saw new Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend murdered and stuffed into a fridge for little more than a plot point.
The discussion saw how this kind of plot point of death, injury or disabling seemed to happen a lot to female characters, and that there were a number of said characters that appeared to have no other purpose than to be killed.
And now it’s happened again: in issue 3 of Earth 2 we discover that Sam, Alan Scott’s would-be fiancé, did in fact die in the bullet train explosion.
This is a character who was only introduced the issue before and thus was killed at the end of that very same issue. A character that ultimately had very few lines and that we are told to believe that his and Scott’s relationship really meant something when we barely see them together. But we don’t really see them long enough to get a feel for their relationship; hell, Sam doesn’t even get the chance to respond to Scott’s proposal, so for all we know it was a one-sided affair.
This is made all the worse by the fact that Alan Scott, in issue 3, seems to move past the news that the supposed love of his life is dead with incredible ease. Hell, even if Sam was a one night stand, I’d find Scott’s capability to just accept it and move on bordering on the sociopathic.
He barely cries; there’s no scream, or breakdown, or any of the typical grandiose, OTT emotional reaction you expect in comics. Rather, weird, glowing green fire says,
‘Oh yeah, hey, ‘bout the boyf; I was, like, only told to save and empower you, so I like totally didn’t bother trying to save him’
…Scott’s apparent reaction?
‘Oh, right. Shame. So, you mentioned some big, dark evil and me getting all super-heroey?’
Now I am mildly annoyed that this happened to a gay character, that it is seen as acceptable to bring in a gay character whose only purpose is to be murdered; it’s not like we have so many LGBTQ representative characters that we can start just introducing them to off them on a whim. But I am more annoyed that in this day and age, and with the bar raised as it is for modern comic storytelling, that we can still have characters at all whose only purpose is to die. And to do so in a few pages is even worse: at least Alex DeWitt, Kyle Rayner’s unlucky girlfriend, had a few issues and a small character arc involving her pushing Kyle to be a better hero.
Sam gets a few short pages. He gets to be kissed by the hero, but then have little all else to say or do. And then he gets to get horrifically killed.
And with such a short amount of time with the character, are we supposed to care about him? Is this death supposed to strike some cord? It would be like a viewer being in floods of tears when some random Red Shirt gets offed on an episode of Star Trek.
As such it’s not even strong enough to comfortably and reliably justify being Alan Scott’s reason for becoming a superhero.
Maybe 50 years ago it would have; after all, Uncle Ben was in a similar situation. However, when that story was updated in Ultimate Spider-Man, with modern comics storyteller Brian M Bendis, Uncle Ben was around for a major chunk of the first arc.
We are long past a stage as an audience where seeing a character for three panels is enough to be a strong enough character arc to justify a new character at all. And likewise, we are past the stage where introducing a character whose sole purpose is to die is acceptable, regardless of if they are gay or straight, male or female.