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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Reactions on Young Avengers/Runaways

I'm pretty badly behind on my comics this week, but one comic I had to read was the Runaways/Young Avengers crossover.

I had to read it ever since Dorian pointed out the unpleasant implications of the fact that it was the gay characters targetted in the torture scenes combined with the relatively recent death of Freedom Ring. I wanted to read it for myself to see what I thought about this story.

As I expected really, I didn't catch any overt/conscious message of homophobia. The characters' homosexuality did not seem to be a motivating issue for their torture (at least from the evil doctor guy's point of view). The obvious story motivation seems to hold up. They might be the gay members, but they're also the alien members. And it's the alienness that is the motivation for the trauma.

Which makes sense.

Except I can't help but wonder why Billy was included. Billy Kaplan isn't an alien. Oddities of parentage aside, he's a perfectly normal mutant kid. The storyline reason for him being in that situation was, quite honestly, incredibly weak.

The "they're chosen as victims because they're aliens" excuse only works when the victims are in fact aliens.

Billy didn't need to be there. And honestly, he didn't serve any role in the plot that really warranted him being there. (Not to mention the inaccuracy of Billy needing to hear his spells to cast them...that wasn't the case in the Young Avengers I read...I can understand messing up some details of characters with years and years of continuity under their belts, but YA is a pretty short series.)

Karolina could have served the same role. The same sensitive character driven to the point of wishing death on someone role. It's not like she had much to do during that scene either. The only one who really got to do anything was Xavin. With Teddy then talking him down.

On one level, I understand the desire to use Billy there. Having loved ones present for a victim's suffering makes for some nice evocative scenes. But again, Karolina was there too and could have served much the same role. As an alien, her presence also has the distinct advantage of making sense.

I don't think there was any sort of conscious homophobia here, but the timing was definitely unfortunate. What with Freedom Ring's death, the Northstar mess, and other debacles in this area, it was probably a bad idea to have the four gay characters (or three gay characters with one straight man living as a woman) placed in this situation in this manner.

I wonder if it would be quite so...uncomfortable if they had gone for just targeting the actual aliens. Teddy, Xavin and Karolina remaining victims, with Billy instead fighting alongside the other Avengers and Runaways. It'd definitely make more sense to me and it might not seem quite as questionably motivated. Maybe.

Also, I concur with Sims, "run away" is the verb, "runaway" is not. Nincompoop.

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  • At November 11, 2006 11:22 PM, Anonymous Loren said…

    Yeah, I didn't get a homophobic vibe from the whole which characters were chosen for torture. I did see it as more of an alien thing and I think the reason why Billy was included was because the psychotic sadistic doctor probably wanted to see Billy suffer while watching Teddy being tortured. It would seem that he would love to see that.

    On some levels, I actually liked the fact that it was two gay characters in this situation. Not that I would ever want to see gay characters tortured, but you could see the pain Billy was going through watching Teddy being much so that he wanted the guy dead. It seemed very real to me. This is a strong love that he has. And, I liked the fact that they didn't fall back on a heterosexual relationship.

  • At November 15, 2006 10:08 PM, Anonymous Ununnilium said…

    Coming back to this and commenting after I actually read the story...

    IMHO, I think it's just that the Billy/Teddy relationship is different from the Karolina/Xavin relationship. Billy's much more the sad woobie.

  • At November 16, 2006 3:33 PM, Blogger Ferrous Buller said…

    Q: A woman, a black guy, and a gay white man show up in a horror film: who's the first one to get killed?

    A: Whatever, just as long as the straight white guy survives.

    Just as sexism doesn't always have to be conscious or intentional to occur, neither do racism nor homophobia.

    "They might be the gay members, but they're also the alien members."

    Then a better question might be: why are the only openly gay characters also non-humans? And in Xavin's case, it's ambiguous to begin with: when you come from a race of shapeshifters, do you even have definite genders to begin with? [Not up on my Skrull physiology.]


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