Tagged: Alysia Yeoh

Joe Corallo, Year One


younganimal1I started writing a weekly column here at ComicMix a year ago today. The past year I’ve given my thoughts on a number of issues focusing in particular on diversity in comics. Those issues have often involved LGBTQ representation. I’m going use this column to highlight some of the topics I’ve covered, see if anything has changed or if any predictions I had made turned out to be true and maybe add in an anecdote or two.

The second column I wrote for ComicMix was about Coagula, DC Comics first and only trans superhero. A lot has happened this past year as far as Coagula is concerned. She went from being an obscure character created by Rachel Pollack from a still uncollected run of Doom Patrol, a long cancelled series with seemingly little hope of being brought back as a monthly comic to being the flagship title for Gerard Way’s Young Animal imprint. Additionally, Gerard Way has stated he wants to bring Coagula back in his run. I can’t stress to all of you enough how great it’s been see this series of events unfold.

Another early column was regarding Alysia Yeoh, Barbara Gordon’s trans friend, getting married. Though there was a lot of press around that and Alysia Yeoh seemed to be gaining some interest from fans the character, one of the incredibly few trans characters that DC Comics has, faded into obscurity.

I spent no less than two columns discussing my displeasure with Iceman being outed. It’s been a long time since I discussed it so I thought I’d follow up on that. It took until All-New X-Men #13 for Iceman to pursue men and not just talk about coming out to someone. He embarrasses himself in a gay bar, runs out and runs into a guy named Romeo (I’m not kidding) who happens to be an Inhuman. I guess they wanted to make sure that character was named Romeo to make sure you’d get that Marvel is borrowing from Shakespeare here. The poor handling of Iceman being gay would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad. It’s somehow managed to be worse than I even thought it was going to be, and I came in with low expectations.

beaton-david-bowieBi-erasure came up a few times discussing characters like Constantine who was being portrayed as straight in the now-cancelled NBC series and Marvel’s Hercules being portrayed as straight despite the character’s history of bisexuality. Bi-erasure came up again as Harley Quinn was portrayed as straight in the Suicide Squad movie and most recently with Gal Gadot confirming that Wonder Woman would be portrayed as straight for the 2017 film. If you want a bisexual Wonder Woman, stick with Greg Rucka for now.

I still don’t think Poe and Finn from Star Wars: The Force Awakens are in love with each other.

When David Bowie passed away early in the morning of January 11th, I had tossed out my previously planned column (with editor Mike Gold’s permission) and wrote about how much David Bowie had meant to me over the years. One story I had forgotten to include was the one and only time I was in the same room as David Bowie. I was seeing a Nine Inch Nails at Hammerstein Ballroom here in New York with my friend Jake back in 2005 with the Dresden Dolls opening. After they opened up in VIP balcony seating above us came out Chris Rock, Marilyn Manson, and David Bowie. The standing room crowd started chanting just being in Bowie’s presence. It got so loud and disruptive that he opted to get up and leave until the house lights went off so as not to draw attention away from Nine Inch Nails. Real classy guy. If you’re unfamiliar, give his album Station to Station a try.

Sam Wilson became Captain America in Steve Rogers absence, but now Steve Rogers is back and Sam Wilson has been relegated to being the second class Captain America.

If you haven’t seen that Netflix Pee-Wee Herman movie, it’s good, but it’s no Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

Eddie Berganza is still group editor of the Superman family titles at DC Comics which has continued to maintain exclusively male employment in the editorial department.

alters-1I’ve highlighted many different creators in the past year including Patrick Atangan, Steve Orlando, Rachel Pollack, Fyodor Pavlov, Howard Cruse, and Caitlin R. Kiernan.

Back in June, AfterShock Comics announced a new series, Alters, written by Paul Jenkins with art by Leila Leiz. The principle character, Chalice, is a trans woman and the hook for the series is “She can only be herself when she’s not herself.” I wrote about my reservations and the red flags I saw from reading the write ups. Paul Jenkins reached out to me and we conducted an interview for the following week. I want to stress that Paul was very polite and agreed to all the questions asked without any hesitation. Now that issue #1 is out we’ve seen the comic be met with mixed reviews, many of which unfortunately reaffirm my reservations based on the initial announcements. Paul Jenkins has done some incredible work including his Marvel Knights run on Inhumans which I can’t recommend highly enough, but the missteps in Alters would be hard to make a course correction on at this point, at least as far as I can tell.

Oh, and I took issue with Simon Pegg making Sulu gay in Star Trek Beyond against George Takei’s wishes even after asking George Takei first. It sounded like a cheap publicity stunt for some free marketing that backfired. Now that the movie is out, it happens that Sulu didn’t even get to kiss his husband in this movie who’s already barely in the film so it turns out I was right to be cynical about it. That column led to the liveliest discussion I’ve had on Facebook about anything I’ve written for ComicMix. Even more than that time I said we don’t need Iron Fist.

That about sums up my summing up of my first year as a columnist here at ComicMix. I’d like to thank Martha Thomases for suggesting me as columnist in the first place, Mike Gold for going with that suggestion, having faith in me to deliver on a weekly basis and for acting as a sounding board and mentor over the past year, and everyone else at ComicMix for being welcoming and supportive over the past year. Most of all, I’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading this column over the past year for your time and support.

I hope you’re as excited for what the next year will bring as I am.


Joe Corallo: Batgirl and that Wedding

Batgirl 45

As many of you may know, last week was the release of Batgirl #45, the issue in which Barbara’s former roommate/good friend Alysia Yeoh gets married to her lover, Jo. The resulting wedding was the first time in mainstream comics that a transgender woman got married. Googling this will lead you to a slew of articles and blog posts covering the groundbreaking nature of this issue. How important is this event though, and will this have any impact on mainstream comics? I picked up a copy so I could try to figure that out.

Like many a comic book wedding before it, it’s a filler issue. It’s about Batgirl at this wedding. This is an important point. It’s about Batgirl. It’s not primarily about Alysia and Jo. They’re the B plot of the issue. With the way the wedding has been hyped this past week, the cover for this issue, and thinking back not too long ago to Northstar’s wedding in Astonishing X-Men #51, it’d be easy to see how one might think that Alysia and Jo would be in the A plot. So if you haven’t read it yet and that’s what you were anticipating, I hope I helped you to avoid going into it with that mindset.

The fact that they weren’t the A plot shouldn’t be a bad thing. Yes, it would be great for diversity in comics if they were. However, the book is still about Batgirl, and not Alysia. Batgirl #45 is a twenty-page story. Six of those pages feature Alysia, and she has six word balloons throughout the comic. Her partner, Jo, is featured on three of those pages and has one line of dialogue, which is “And I love you.” Batgirl has ten times the dialogue that Alysia has, and the story is mostly about Batgirl and her relationships with Luke Fox and Grayson with the wedding as a backdrop.

None of that takes away from the fact that Alysia Yeoh is a long overdue representation in comics, and that she had an important moment in her life that Barbara got to be a part of. Current trans representation in mainstream comics is nearly nonexistent outside of Alysia. We do need trans representation outside of the heroes themselves as part of having a world more reflective of our own, and Alysia has been a step towards that. It’s not ideal, but this is where we are.

I encourage everyone who wants to see more and better representation to pick up this book if they haven’t yet at their LCS. If it’s sold out, ask them about ordering more. If we can show that trans representation can help sell comics, we will get more of it. That’s just how it works.

At the end of the day, both DC and Marvel, and nearly every other comics publisher for that matter, is a business first and foremost. They may be willing to occasionally take a risk, but when all is said and done they need books that sell. We could have a discussion about how we don’t necessarily know some of the sales potential more trans representation could have over time, and how maybe expanding that quicker could lead to great things for the publishers and the readers, but if we don’t buy and support the offerings they’re already trying to give us, than they’ll just stop where they are and potentially take years to try again.

This does not mean you can’t also demand more and demand better. Social media alone isn’t going to necessarily bring about the kind of characters and story lines you want, but it does have power. Earlier in this Batgirl run, as I mentioned last week, the same team that worked on the first trans wedding in comics wrote an issue with a story and dialogue that was considered transphobic. It was public outcry through social media that got us an apology and changes in the reprints of that issue.

People and companies can learn and adapt to changing demands from their customers. By both buying comics with queer characters like Batgirl and Midnighter, and speaking up through social media and other outlets available about these issues and what can be improved upon, we can assure a bright future for mainstream queer comics.