For a special weekly series during the month of June, guest columnist Dane Hill shares his experiences as a gay comics reader and the power of being represented. Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.
To end Gay Pride Month on a fun note, I thought I would do the ultimate comic geek exercise and count down the hottest men in comics, according to my personal gay southern-grown tastes. So, without further ado, Dane’s Top 10 Hottest Comic Book Characters. Or Dane’s Comics Boyfriend Wish List:
10. Lightning Lad (Garth Ranzz) / Karate Kid (Val Armorr)
Ok, I’m cheating here. Sue me. The Legion of Super-Heroes is what got me started in this hobby. Of all the Legionnaires, Lightning Lad and Karate Kid stories gave me the most thrill. LL’s costume is probably my favorite costume of all-time. While Karate Kid was my favorite Legionnaire, period. [pauses to think] Hmm, you could just as well add Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf and Element Lad to the list. Colossal Boy was pretty cool too. Ah hell, just say half the male Legion and be done with it. Long live the Legion! (Favorite artist: Neal Adams and Mike Grell)
9. Sunspot (Roberto “Bobby” da Costa)
The New Mutants was my favorite series and what introduced me to the Marvel Universe. I got in on the ground floor when they debuted with a graphic novel. And while southern-bred Cannonball should have been more my type, I was always attracted to Sunspot, a beautifully dark-skinned and lean South American who turns into a silhouetted strong man crackling with power when energized. His look was perfection. And his hot-headed loner attitude pinged my young gaydar. (Favorite artist: Sal Buscema and Bob McLeod)
8. Hellstorm (Daimon Hellstrom, aka The Son of Satan)
The ultimate bad boy. I mean, he’s the son of the Devil for pete’s sake! Oh, and his costume is to be shirtless. Yeah, I’m shallow. But I’ve always taken notice of his appearances. (Favorite artist: the dude’s half-naked, I’m not picky)
7. Falcon (Sam Wilson)
One-time partner to Captain America, he was one of the first action figures (Mego!) I played with. I remember finding the openness of his costume completely fascinating, and constantly peeking underneath the costume all the time. To this day, I find that Mego figure more titillating than the character in the actual comic. Yeah, I’m a weirdo. (Favorite artist: Mego)
6. Angel (Warren Worthington III)
I mean, come on… he looks like an angel, for God’s sake! Rich and classically handsome features. Did I mention he has wings and LOOKS LIKE AN ANGEL?? (Favorite artist: John Byrne and Alan Kupperberg; favorite costume: red with golden halo symbol on chest, blue variant costume a close second)
5. Iceman (Robert “Bobby” Drake)
A sentimental favorite from his Spider Friends days. A jokester who’s never quite grown up. Cool and handsome, plus how slick are those ice slides of his? Not to mention, at one point when he iced down, he was shown in his skivvies! Bobby is the fun boyfriend that I would enjoy taking home to Mom to torment. (Favorite artist: also John Byrne and Alan Kupperberg)
4. Kevin Keller (Kevin Keller)
As American as apple pie, new to comics but already a fan favorite. He’s the Mr. Popular we all crushed on in high school, or wanted to hang out with after school. Smart, athletic, handsome. Oh god, just ask me to the prom already! (Favorite artist: Dan Parent)
3. Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier)
Comics’ first openly gay man. A second-rate character who exploded onto the A-list when he came out of the closet. Once a hot-headed and self-absorbed mess, he’s matured over the years into the no-longer-eligible bachelor we see today. Plus, what’s up with his exotic elvish features? Yum! (Favorite artist: John Byrne)
2. Superboy (young Clark Kent / Kal-El)
An orphan with a tragic history, mysterious and full of unmatchable powers. Searching to find his role on this new planet, while discovering the extent of his abilities. I’ve always enjoyed following Superboy more than Superman, if that makes sense. Mainly because of his Legion of Super-Heroes membership. Alien or not, sign me up. I’ll take me an alien boyfriend if they come looking like him! (Favorite artists: Neal Adams and Mike Grell)
1. Captain America (Steve Rogers)
THE perfect All-American man for the guy looking for someone with old-fashioned values. Well, those values don’t come any truer than someone displaced from that actual era where the term “old-fashioned” comes from. If he wasn’t the perfect boyfriend before, once the equally perfect Chris Evans was cast in the role of Cap for Hollywood, there was no other character that could begin to compete with this hunk of gentleman. Hmm, Steve and Dane Rogers-Hill… I like the sound of it! (Favorite artists: Mike Zeck and John Byrne)
Honorable Mention: Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
Down-on-his-luck nerd, who just so happens to be a hot adorkable genius. Sure, the whole spider thing is a little creepy. But damn, he fills out the tights nicely. And funny as hell. Gotta love a man with a great sense of humor. Still, my phobia of spiders drops him out of the Top 10, which is par for the course for his luck anyway. (Favorite artists: Todd McFarlane and Ron Frenz)
While DC Comics is working through a gender controversy, Marvel Comics has taken a step forward in representing racial minorities in their super-hero comic books. On Tuesday it was announced in USA Today that Spider-Man would now be a half-black, half-Hispanic teen named Miles Morales (right).
The story is not being told in Marvel’s flagship Amazing Spider-Man (where Peter Parker is still swinging through New York City, white as ever), but instead in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, which starts with a new issue #1 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli (yes DC, a woman!) in September. The Ultimate Comics imprint is set in a younger alternate universe, apart from the bulk of Marvel’s comics. Since the licensability of Marvel’s big characters, which date back to the 1960s and ’70s (and some to 1939), is dutifully protected in Marvel’s main line of comics, the Ultimate Universe allows creators just a bit more leeway. This is easily the best example of that leeway, and could be a refreshing signal of things to come for that imprint.
The first appearance of Miles Morales as Spider-Man is in the just-released Ultimate Comics Fallout #4, which itself spun out of the recent “Death of Spider-Man” story.
Bendis told USA Today, “Even though there’s some amazing African-American and minority characters bouncing around in all the superhero universes, it’s still crazy lopsided.”
He’s right, but this helps. Of course there have been plenty of foolish reactions, from anonymous internet posters trying not to sound too racist to Glenn Beck‘s weird conspiracy theory. Fortunately, cooler heads prevail, and have been celebrating what was unthinkable even five years ago. Why unthinkable? Because comic books with black leads have historically been a tough sell. The Black Panther, comics’ first headlining black hero, has had intermittent series since his debut in 1966. Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is the only comic book series to star a black or African-American in the starring role to last so long (although Al Simmons was replaced with the white Jim Downing last year). Heidi MacDonald at The Beat explores this issue and more in this well-written piece.
You don’t have to sit at home alone reading to get into comic books and graphic novels. There are always great events going on that celebrate the vitality and creativity of comics. Just here in Los Angeles, there are more events I can ever make. But I try, and so should you. You never know what you’ll discover.
Here are some local Los Angeles events coming up that celebrate the sequential art form.
Tuesday, January 4, 11:30 AM: Stan Lee (co-creator of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, et al.) will be honored with the 2,428th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (in the category of Motion Pictures) at 7072 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles 90028 (in front of the Live Nation Building). Guest speakers: Gill Champion (President/COO, Pow! Entertainment) and Todd McFarlane (Spawn). Tickets: $0.
Wednesday, January 5, 8 PM: Comics podcast Bagged & Boarded with SModcastle’s Matt Cohen and Brendan Creecy with special guest TBA has a live show broadcast at SModcastle, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90038. Tickets: $10.
Wednesday, January 5, 8:30 PM: The Meltdown (weekly comedy show) with stand-up comedians Barry Rothbart, Brett Gelman, Jackie Kashian, Brendon Walsh, and Maria Bamford, at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90046. Tickets: $8.
Saturday, January 8, 8 PM: Battle for the Planet of the Geeks, calling itself “the dorkiest trivia war ever waged”, is being held at SModcastle, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90038. Tickets: $10 or $40 for 4-person team.
The future: Read the rest of this entry