Earlier this month at Kapow in London, DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio mentioned that DC Comics would be introducing a gay character into their universe, and it wouldn’t be a new character, rather a well known character not yet introduced to The New 52. This bit of news came just before the announcement by Marvel Comics of the impending nuptials of Northstar in the pages of Astonishing X-Men and since then the story of May 2012 in comics has been that of gay superheroes.
Ever since DiDio made that comment there has been massive speculation as to the identity of the character, with theories flying around the internet. Today DC Comics announced that the character is Alan Scott, Green Lantern of Earth 2, and is being introduced by writer James Robinson and artist Nicola Scott in the pages of Earth 2 #2.
As part of this announcement we had the opportunity to talk with James Robinson about the timing around this character introduction and the motivations behind it.
iFanboy: With all the attention and speculation leading up to today’s announcement revealing that Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth 2, is gay, we were hoping you could walk us through how long you’ve been working on this story and developing the character?
James Robinson: It’s been about 8 months that I’ve been working on it. One of the things about the reboot and having Alan Scott be younger was that we lost Obsidian, his gay son. From there in the way that one idea can springboard into another, I thought very quickly “Well, let’s make Alan Scott gay.” To DC and Dan DiDio’s credit, there wasn’t a moments hesitation. He said it was a great idea. I can’t speak for Dan, but I have a feeling that he’s as surprised that I am that an offhand comment that he made at a convention in England [about an iconic DC character being gay] has become this big thing. Obviously attention is a good thing and the reaction has been, from what I can glean on the internet, mainly positive, so that’s a good thing.
iF: As DC Comics has rebooted with the New 52, we’ve seen slight changes in established characters like this. How does Alan Scott’s sexuality help you develop that character and does it play a role in the story you’re telling?
JR: It definitely adds a realistic aspect to the team. If you look at a cross section of society, you’ll find gay people in every group. One of the things that’s interesting is that people are focusing on his sexuality, but that’s just one aspect of him. In every other way, with him, with Jay Garrick, with Ted Grant–who you’ll be seeing a little Easter egg of him in issue #2 and then his becoming Wildcat is one of the main purposes of our second arc–I really just go back to the archetypes of who they were when they were younger. Like Jay is this idealistic, slightly naive young man just out of college, which is what Jay Garrick was. He got his powers in his final year of college. Alan Scott, at first was an engineer, but very quickly they shifted him over to become a radio personality and then he owned the radio station. As society and technology evolved, we had television, so Gotham City Broadcasting became a TV station as well. Yes, I’m updating the kind of media that Alan Scott is involved with, but he’s just a media mogul. He’s a young, dynamic type-A personality and to me, I’m just writing a perfect Alan Scott based on how he used to be, that’s how I’m approaching it. The only change, aside from being young, is that he’s gay. In every other aspect, he’s the Alan Scott that we know and love. Remember, Alan Scott is my favorite DC Golden Age character, by far. So I’m always going to be protective and reverent to who he is and who he was. I’m not trying to upset anyone and change him. I’m trying to be kind of purist in terms of who he is and his personality and what kind of man he is.
iF: Many people might see this as a response to Marvel and the wedding of Northstar, or a stunt to attract readers, but it sounds as if his sexuality isn’t the story that you’re telling, but just an aspect of the character. Is that accurate?
JR: Absolutely. As I’ve said, I can’t speak for Dan, but I’m sure he’s as surprised as I am. I’m certainly surprised by the degree of attention it’s getting. In terms of a reaction to Northstar, I didn’t know about this wedding, and Northstar has been [openly gay] for 25 years. The fact that they’re happening so close together is literally another example like the X-Men and Doom Patrol [being created at the same time] and these other examples of when Marvel and DC have done the same thing at the same time. It was just synchronicity.
iF: With issue #2 of Earth 2 and the introduction of Alan Scott, you’re continuing this introduction of Earth 2 in the new continuity and the new characters within it. What can we expect from Earth 2 moving forward?
JR: One of the things with with it being called Earth 2 and not the Justice Society is that, obviously there will be a Justice Society team and you’ll see that truly come together and there will be a true team by the end of the first year, but it allows me to take my time to bring this team together, so that we can focus on the characters and to really get to know who they are. Not just in terms of their powers, but in their personalities and quirks and traits. I do believe that when you start a team book, there’s kind of a rush to get the players on the stage quickly. I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to do it as quickly as everyone else. So what you’re going to see is the team, in the first arc, which is them taking on their first threat. A villain who is a classic Justice Society villain that’s been updated and changed slightly, but is true to the original and is also a classic Alan Scott villain. I’ll leave it at that for now and I’ll be a little secretive about it.
And one of the things about Earth 2 is that it isn’t a magical world, but it’s slightly more mystical. That was something that we decided early on. Everyone gets their powers and abilities in a slightly mystical way. I’ve always loved Jay Garrick, but I’ve always thought his origin was a bit goofy. Hard water…it just doesn’t exist and it’s just a silly, made up science. Even someone like The Atom, if people look carefully in issue #1, there’s an atomic symbol behind Al Pratt’s head, it’s the last time you see him in the first issue, and literally the next moment is him becoming The Atom and I’ll reveal that in a backstory later. But that, which feels very much like a classic science origin, you’ll find that even that has a slightly mystical aspect to it. So the second arc will introduce Ted Grant/Wildcat and will focus on magic and mysticism versus science and how the government and the World Army–which is the amalgamation of the all the countries’ armies which banded together in the course of the Apokolips War–how they react to the Justice Society and that leads to another major Earth 2 villain who Mr. Terrific, who also appears in issue #2, is the the first one to encounter, and so you’ll get a little glimpse of the beginnings of the second arc in issue #2.
iF: Earlier you mentioned the inspiration for Alan Scott being gay was the lack of Obsidian in the New 52. Are there any plans to re-introduce Obsidian, or Alan Scott’s other child, Jade, in Earth 2?
JR: Obviously, I’ve got a lot of characters to introduce in Earth 2, so I’ll be honest, it isn’t at the forefront. With Alan Scott being about 27 years old, it’s hard for him to have had children, but I’ve actually come up with a potential idea of a way to get those two characters into Earth 2 and I’ll see if I can work on that in the second year maybe.
iF: With all the surprise attention to this topic of gay superheroes, with the reintroduction of Alan Scott and him being gay along with the Northstar wedding at Marvel, there have been some people who haven’t been supportive of the idea. How do you feel about the reactions of those groups of people and their opinions?
JR: Well, they can’t live with the times. I can’t worry about those kind of people. I just don’t care about those people. The reality is the world is filled with fantastic gay people that contribute to society in every aspect you can imagine from medicine to arts to serving in the military. It’s nice to put one in a super team and acknowledge that there’s a gay character there too. But I want to reiterate, it’s just one aspect. He’s a gallant, heroic, green knight that would die for the Earth and its people and fight to his dying breath. There are so many other fantastic attributes to Alan Scott and I want people to see that he’s gay and he’s also everything you’d want in a hero. So anybody that has a problem with that, I just think you’ve got to grow up and stop worrying about other people and try to live a good, honorable life yourself.
While we didn’t get a chance to speak with Earth 2 artist Nicola Scott, DC Comics provided the following statement from Scott:
“Before starting work on #1, the first document I had to work from was the character breakdowns for our primary players. With Alan the brief was very clear. He needed to be a big, strapping, handsome man that everyone would instinctively follow and love. No short order but right up my ally. Alan strikes me as an incredibly open, honest and warm man, a natural leader and absolutely the right choice to be Guardian of the Earth. His sexuality is incidental. Every time I draw him I love him even more.”
Below is two pages from Earth 2 #2 featuring Alan Scott and his boyfriend Sam: