I wrote a little review

On the blog here a week or so ago for Perry Moore's book Hero, which is just a great (and fun) little story about a young man who is a true superhero, and who is gay. It's just a great story, but it's also a sensitive coming-of-age story, and an action packed sock-em-up in traditional super hero form. Its author recently published in Harpers a little list he compiled of real-world gay comic book heroes, and their fates. I offer it in full:

AMAZON: crippled, made a supervillain terrorist, electrocuted

APOLLO: gang-raped

BATWOMAN: revealed as a closeted lesbian, kidnapped, tortured; stabbed herself through the stomach with a sword

BLARNEY COCK: disemboweled, whereupon a gerbil crawled out of his anus

BLOKE: killed on first mission

NED CAMPBELL: slashed into bits after his wife finds him having sex with a male lover

CAPTAIN METROPOLIS: decapitated

CAPTAIN POWER: disfigured by an explosion, driven to insanity, murder

CHAIN: dead

KAROLINA DEAN, HULKING, & WICCAN: tortured while straight teammates were not

DESTINY: dead

DESTROYER: in the closet

FRENCHIE DUCHAMP: alcoholic, double-amputee; beaten nearly to death with his prosthetic leg

ELECTRO: realized he was a homosexual after a lengthy stint in prison

EL EXTRANO, “THE STRANGE ONE”: attacked by an AIDS vampire

FAUNA: dead

FREEDOM RING: finger sliced off; impaled on twenty-eight spikes, including one through the groin and anus

GREEN ARROW II/CONNOR HAWKE: made retroactively heterosexual

HOODED JUSTICE: murdered by teammate

ICE: murdered, last seen in hell

JARVIS: shot through the head, dead

JERICHO: impaled on his father’s sword

JETMAN: blackmailed by a villain who threatens to out him

KARMA: raped as a child, kidnapped, disfigured; later reappears but is too fat to move on her own

WALTER KASKO: killed in a botched gang-slaying

MADAME FATAL: dead; his funeral, attended by drag queens, is mocked

MIDNIGHTER: heart ripped out

MONSIEUR MALLAH & THE BRAIN: sadistic gorilla and disembodied brain in a jar; searching for a body for the Brain so they can consummate their love

MOONDRAGON: kidnapped, ear ripped off by a villain who makes her girlfriend deliver it to Moondragon’s father as a ransom note

NORTHSTAR: killed in three different realities, resurrected as a zombie assassin

OBSIDIAN: depowered, corrupted by his sexual strife, manipulated by dark forces, thwarted in an attempt to destroy the world, made a security guard for a team of heterosexual superheroes but not allowed to sit with them at the table

PHAT: dead

PIED PIPER: parents murdered by teammate

RAWHIDE KID: revealed he was only pretending to be gay

ROBIN: exposed as a villain; explained that his turn to the dark side was due to his unrequited love for Batman

SHATTERSTAR: rewritten as a heterosexual

SHOUT OUT: thumbs ripped off

SILHOUETTE: murdered, along with her lover, after being outed

SUNFIRE II: dead

ULTIMATE NORTHSTAR: shot at point-blank range, left to die

UNION JACK II: dead

WING: admitted crush to his mentor, who broke his arm and beat him; given a check for $750,000 and forced to leave his superhero group in dishonor

This really requires no further comment: if you believe that gay people are, in fact, people, and not "things" which are icky and detestable, the list is appalling. I'm sure I do not make a novel observation when I suppose that homophobia runs especially hot in worlds dominated by hormonal young men, and obviously the trend has been to either kill off or "un-gay" -- or in some cases outright humiliate, and then also possibly kill -- the gay character. But comics have in the last decade or so expanded their audience base beyond the bepimpled newly-baritoned, so here's hoping. One of the things I liked most about Hero was how it dealt openly with the crisis of being both a superhero and gay -- I mean, the league has an image to keep up, doesn't it? So on and so forth -- but of course being a hero means more than being strong -- it means being brave, and doing the right thing even when you know you'll take endless abuse for it.

One more reason that it, for all it's poppish appeal, Perry Moore's little book might have a worthwhile place in a lit class.

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