Captain's Blog: Stardate 122017.5
I've just learned that Marvel Comics first, ongoing series featuring a gay, male lead...Iceman...has been canceled and will finish it's run in March. Gay nerds everywhere are starting to “come out” in support of this book. Some stating how important it was to have this character with his own book. Some suggesting an online fan petition to try to rescue the series before it's too late. But I have one very important question:
Look, I absolutely think it is important for LGBTQ characters to headline their own comic books. I believe that these books send the right message to kids who are trying to understand themselves. And I was thrilled to start reading this character's story...you know...until it started.
My biggest complaint about the “Iceman” comic was that it was trying to be a coming out story. The focus was on this otherwise confident Gen-X age Iceman struggling to come out to his parents, feeling guilt about a break up with a woman because he still hadn't figured out his sexuality, and all of this made worse by his totally out, Millenial self from another timeline adding to his sense of inadequacy.
But isn't X-Men fundamentally, and continually, a coming out story? Isn't that part of what the allegory of “mutation” is able to tell? This Iceman's story was rooted in a coming out tale that seemed trite and almost deferential to an audience that has never heard a queer story before. Or a queer audience that has never read an X-Men story before.
Suffice it to say, I stopped reading at issue five.
I wish this was an issue limited to Iceman, but this touches on an issue I have had with gay storytelling in general as of late. We are more than coming out and HIV. We are complex individuals who have relationships, passions, and personalities beyond the tropes of the “acceptable mainstream gay experience.”
Take the recent DC “Midnighter and Apollo” mini-series. Six issues where two very different characters have great, unapologetic gay sex, are divided by evil, and then Midnighter bloodies up the underworld trying to rescue the love of his life. It was great! Not only was it more graphic than I expected, but it got me emotionally as well. And there was not one part of the main plot that hinged on either character having to accept that they were gay.
Gay audiences are ready for more depth in their storytelling, even if they don't know it yet. I'm sorry to see Iceman wrapping his series...but maybe if the character works out his issues, he can be at the center of a series where the biggest villain isn't his own sexuality.