Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Men In Tights

I've been in the mood for a little escapist fiction of late. I'm not much of a beach goer (hello, have you seen my flourescent lily white legs?) but it is sort of a premature Summer here, and any kind of Summer means Beach Reading to me. Light. Engaging but not taxing.

My very own gay superhero Michael recently read, and subsequently kind of harshed on, "Hero" by Perry Moore. I was intrigued. I hadn't heard anything about this book, but the teen gay superhero plot piqued my interest. Much like the movie "Mystery Men", the film is set in an alternate modern day where "heroes", people with superpowers of varying degress of effectiveness and eccentricity, are the norm (even if only a small percentage of the population).



I enjoyed it. It's not great, but it filled the bill for something entertaining and diverting. It definately falls into 'young adult fiction' territory, and it is true that the author does kind of broadcast the big reveal a bit (and very early). However, I like what Moore (who has previously been best known as executive producer of "Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe" and the upcoming "Prince Caspian" movies) has tried to do with creating a teen gay superhero.

According to an interview on his website, he was reacting in part to the poor treatment of gay and lesbian characters in comics, especially the murder of gay superhero Northstar by one of Marvel's other hero characters, Wolverine. As he says:
"In the very popular superhero team The X-Men, the first and most prominent gay hero in the Marvel Comics universe, Northstar, was viciously killed by Wolverine—the star of the team, the star of the film. You see Wolverine's image on kids' lunch boxes; you see children dress up as him for Halloween. And he slaughtered the X-Men's token gay hero. I found this to be disturbing, to say the least. In all my years of reading X-Men, I have never known Wolverine to kill another hero. And yet, there he was, skewering Marvel Comic's most prominent gay hero through the heart with his adamantium claws. I thought this revealed a very ugly side of the people and publishers who make comic books, and not necessarily what the fans want."

Moore also has chronicled, and given his opinions on, the history of poor treatment of gay and lesbian characters in comics here.

So, bravo for attempting to create an alternative. The novel is a bit campy in tone, similar in a way to "Mystery Men". The villians are certainy campy. Moore gets huge snaps from me for calling one of the female villians with laser beam eyesight Transvision Vamp! I do so love a good pop culture shout-out. The main character's coming out story is handled fairly well, with some sensitivity and more seriousness. I think it works fairly well, quibbles about the author broadcasting main plot points aside.

According to Moore's website a sequel to "Hero" is already in the works, and discussions are underway about a possible movie adaptation. He's also working on a young adult novel about werewolves, and has just written and a directed a feature film "Lake City". Busy boy.

Oh, and kind of cute too!



7 comments:

mrpeenee said...

thanks for the recommendation

Michael said...

I'm glad I was, in some obtuse way, responsible for your pleasure.

You liked it. I hated it. That's what makes the world go 'round!

yani said...

They killed off Northstar? But... It... He... They...

Oh Bollocks!

He was all gay and French Canadian and looked good in a speedo and had pointy ears...

Well bugger you Marvel comics... Bugger you to hell and back!

The Other Andrew said...

I don't really read comics, but I remember the buzz about Northstar when he was first introduced. Shame, shame, Marvel.

John C said...

Oh, not heard of this. I'm unfortunately jaded these days by my professional contact with the comics world but things are a lot better than they used to be although fanboy homophobia still abounds. Or, the US comic book world is better than it was, since US comics are actually a genre of the comics artform, as my good friend Eddie Campbell (who now lives in Brisbane) never tires of pointing out.

There's a nice list of gay characters in the American books here:

http://www.gayleague.com/gay/characters/index.php

yani said...

Yeah, I tried to track down the comic he came out in a little while after it was released and you couldn't find it for love nor money (well... probably just the love, I'm sure given enough money)...

And as John pointed out with that list, there are always more gay American comic book characters than you would imagine... although they're not always explicitly out.

The Other Andrew said...

Did you have a look at the list Moore wrote on his website? I was surprised at how many gay & lesbian characters have cropped up in comics. There are some very sticky ends they came to also, but I guess the superhero genre specialises in sticky ends.