Monday, June 22, 2009

My Lesbian Senses are Tingling

That was slightly dirtier than I had planned for a title.

Since the introduction of Kate Kane during 52, I have patiently been waiting for... well, this Wednesday. I just didn't know it until a few months ago. On June 24, there's going to be a lesbian headlining a major imprint's major title for the first time, um. Ever? I'm not a comic historian, so I'm going to say ever, and someone can correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.

Yes yes, Crime Bible, but it wasn't a major title. We're talking Detective Comics here, people. The title that's been running for over 60 years, gave the DCU its name, and introduced the world to this guy named Batman. I hear he's popular with the kids these days.

This is sort of a big deal.

I'll save my actual reactions until I read her first issue, but other than looking freakishly pale, I'm excited for Kate Kane to kick some ass, take some names, and romance some ladies. I'm hoping this whole "closeted socialite" thing doesn't last long, because: blech! So we'll see. Her brief appearance in Crime Bible gave me hope! Who knows.

The point I'm trying to make is that there aren't exactly a lot of lady lovin' ladies that are in big comics. I mean, this makes sense and it doesn't. On one hand, we've got a genre that loves to titilate (teehee) its (generally and stereotypically) young, male audience with scantily-clad women that are very very non-proportionally endowed (I'm not saying this would be a good way to get female same sex relationships into comics, I'm just saying it's a motivation.) . On the other, we've got things like comics codes.

There was this movie that came out about 15 years ago (wow) called The Celluloid Closet. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the history of movies. It goes into great detail about all the years of moviemaking where filmmakers would slip in references of homosexuality for viewers to pick up on, because the Hollywood Production Code. Except the only viewers that were meant to pick up on it were part of the "culture" in the first place.

This is what I call subtext. And I have graduated from the Xena School of Subtext, my friends. The one where you dissect every single episode/issue/scene for something, anything that proves that the particular character you think is a GLBT character is actually a GLBT character. And is probably having hot lady-sex with her sidekick.

Ahem. Also, they kissed a lot. Usually to bring each other back to life. I don't know.

Where was I?

Comics. Right. So I've read Camelot 3000, and that's definitely explicit. After 15 issues of self-hatred and misogyny, Tristan finally man's up (pun intended!) and realizes no one in the 30th century cares about same sex relationships (oh, dated socio-political statements, how I love you).

And I don't deny that there are some definite lesbian (erm, I'm just going to use the term lesbian from now on to refer to a relationship where ther are two women of the same gender who are in a pairing, whether they're bisexual or gay or whatever) storylines in V for Vendetta and Sandman, but when I sit down and ready my usual haul of comics, there's not much there for me. Um, Mystique I guess, but let's be honest: an evil lesbian is one of the Big Three Lesbian Clich├ęs. (Yes, she's bi. That sort of makes it worse, because then she's the insane bi woman who preys on men but tragically loves a woman. Blech.)

[For the record: 1) Lesbians wanting to be mommies more than anything else, and then being defined by those mommy storylines (ER's Carrie Weaver). 2) Lesbian in love with straight friend, goes insane and kills straight friend's boyfriend and/or straight friend (High Tension, anyone?). 3) Lesbian can't handle lesbianness and offs herself.]

So lesbians kind of get short-shafted (absolutely no pun intended there) in the main imprints. Luckily, I don't need much.

There are some easily-brought-to-mind subtextual (practically maintextual) lady-couples in comics. I think Poison Ivy and Harlequin are my favorite (of course we can argue about whether this started in the DCAU or the DCU, but whatever, they're in comics now and I'm definitely going to be picking up Gotham Sirens and so should you). I know I'm not alone in this, because when I googled "harley ivy" to get a nice picture of them, the first thing that came up was most definitely NSFW. And there were no men. Thank you, internet.

Speaking of the DCAU being awesome, Paul Dini not only made Harley, but he made Renee Montoya, too and she is definitely one of the most interesting lesbian characters out there (I have no comment on that travesty that is Anna Ramirez from The Dark Knight Returns). (Also, check out Montoya's newer, gayer haircut.)

I think I digressed again. Oh, I was going through a mental list of the women in comics I think ought to be lady lovin' with each other. Emma Frost and Jean Grey (c'mon, that'd be awesome). Supergirl and Power Girl (if you can get over the whole "we're genetically the same" thing, which I can understand if you can't). Barbara Gordon and, sweet merciful crap, um, anyone? Dinah Lance, for sure. I could see Babs with Helena, too. And after reading the Manhunter co-feature last week, yeah. Totally with Manhunter.

Told you I don't need much.

Some people might call me crazy (or desperate), but when you're given so little for so long, you will latch onto the slightest thing and run with it.

Of course now I've got a main-title heroine (and her co-feature) to latch onto. Will that stop me from finding subtext in all the right wrong places? Nah.

But it's nice to have a hero I can identify with. And not just in an allegorical "hey, mutants are second class citizens just like black people/disabled people/gay people/etc." kind of way. This is srs bdnss, this is a lesbian kicking ass and taking names while wearing a big ol' Bat symbol on her chest.


Oh, and since I this is a post about Kate Kane, I'll end it with the pretty-popular "Her Sex is on Fire" image (by Phillip Tan; for Crime Bible, I believe). Because it's awesome. And you totally know that's a question mark. The rest I'll leave to your imagination.

1 comment:

  1. i just stumbled upon this blog by googling lesbian subtext in gotham sirens.. the quote "And I have graduated from the Xena School of Subtext, my friends. " is the best quote ever.
    i too graduated from that school. i'm gonna follow your blog now.