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Getting a Glimpse of the Age of Woke Comic Books

Every week, I'll read whatever Batman-related comics are available. It's one of the few places where you can read non-news/non-political material these days.

Given my schedule, it takes me a month or more to read a novel that only a few years ago would have taken me a couple of weeks to read. However, comic comics are quick enough to read in an afternoon and still provide a satisfying tale.

Back in October, the streams were crossed and there was a bunch of outrage online about DC announcing a bisexual Superman. In perhaps the most level-headed answer one could find on the right, my colleague Brandon Morse summed up a lot of why people were outraged.

Many will say that it’s homophobia driving the anger toward DC’s decision on their character’s sexualities, but that’s not it. The anger it drives has more to do with what we know the decision was based on, not homosexuality itself.

The issue is that homosexuality has been used as a cudgel with which to club the non-woke with, which is the vast majority of America. They simultaneously want to use Superman’s sexuality to normalize homosexuality to the young and purposefully anger everyone else for both publicity and personal reasons. They want to shove it in your face and make you watch as they destroy characters you grew up with with “modern” values that make no sense to the character or the story half the time.

Here’s the kicker.

DC Comics’ bad writing is just punching holes in its own hull, and as a result, it will continue to sink into oblivion until it’s not worth much in printed form. At some point, people will just get tired of reading about their favorite characters being molested by undeserving creators and tune out. The sales and publicity will disappear, and DC will be a memory some once had from back when they were kids. Back when DC was actually trying to write good stories and sell comics to Americans, not just a small subsection of hateful ones.

Another extensively publicized news item from the media surfaced last week, this time involving Wonder Woman and her new partner. Every mainstream site that covered it treated it as if it were a huge transformation for the character, and there were a few typical comments on the right.

Except that most of people engaged in both cases fell into a media trap: the media decided to cover both stories dishonestly, using titles that implied the stories were more important than they were. The majority of individuals on social media never looked into the subject beyond the headlines, which claimed that Superman had gone bisexual. In truth, it's Jon Kent, the son of the original Superman. Clark Kent would be going off-world for a lengthy period of time, putting the Superman mantle in the hands of his son.

The younger Kent, who will not be "Superman" indefinitely, is developing as a character. After Clark Kent's "return," he'll continue to appear in comic books, but that's about all.

The Wonder Woman story was even more dishonest in its framing. The intimate moment between her and another character happened in the series “Dark Knights of Steel,” which is not part of the main continuity of the comics. Further, it’s not even news that Wonder Woman is bisexual. One of the best writers in the business, Greg Rucka, confirmed she was bisexual back in 2016. But the headlines (and the reaction) were based on a false premise.

DC Comics commemorated Pride Month this summer with a special issue focusing on LGBT heroes and relationships. It included well-known characters (such as Harley Quinn and Batwoman) as well as lesser-known characters (such as Renee Montoya/The Question) and how they manage their romantic relationships with their heroic (or villain?) lifestyles. It was a complete pander, because we've seen those interpersonal issues throughout the season with those people. More importantly, we understand that sexuality, like skin tone, isn't what defines a hero.

That, however, is the actual difficulty. This isn't so much a trap set by the media to generate indignation clicks as it is a trap set by DC to generate headlines and public relations. Because the comic book business is failing, they are making moves to enhance their awareness. Overall sales have increased, but graphic novels have surpassed individual books and book subscriptions as the most popular medium. While digital sales are increasing, comic book retailers are experiencing difficulties. Over the last few years, there have been some challenges with distribution and pricing. These are businesses who want to stay in business.

And, let's be honest, let's confront it. At best, the DC Extended Universe films have been hit-or-miss. They aren't getting the strong headlines they want, so they must make changes, and this is one of them. Increase LGBT representation to appeal to a wider audience.

The sexuality of Superman's son or Wonder Woman's romance with another character in a non-canonical novel have no larger impact on the story. However, they are all out there because they believe it will help the company develop. And, to be honest, conservatives don't actually fight over comic books, so a major wave of boycotts seems unlikely, much alone helpful.

It's all about public relations at the end of the day. It's always been like way.

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