Even the mainstream media was abuzz earlier this summer when word got out that a major super-hero would be coming out as gay. Our spirits flagged a little bit when it turned out it was Green Lantern—not the Hal Jordan character audiences saw depicted by Ryan Reynolds but Alan Scot, an alternate-universe GL with a different costume and origin.
Still, it was a nice touch.
Until this Wednesday, that is, when Earth 2 #3 came out and readers learned the train Alan was on exploded, killing Sam. That’s gotta be a record—from hello to R.I.P. in one issue. Even soap operas drag it out a little longer than that.
Bilerico Project Jason Tsang was just one of many readers who felt betrayed:
Sam’s death is clearly designed by writer James Robinson to give Alan Scott a torturous and angst-filled origin. Transforming Alan’s proposal ring into his new power ring, I imagine is intended to prove to us that Sam meant something, that his death is weighty and serious.
However, this neatly tied green plot bow over Sam’s burning corpse only cheapens Sam’s death. Sam was never created to live, rather he was created to die. While this trope of deceased loved one inspiring heroism is a longstanding theme in superhero comics, these deaths are only inspirational and effective if the deceased is someone we care about. We are hardly introduced to Sam before he is killed, which negates the emotional impact of his sacrifice.
On top of that, Alan Scott is disturbingly unphased by Sam’s death. In fact, when the green flame informs him that the love of his life and almost fiance has died, he exhibits no remorse. There is no pause to mourn his lover’s passing, rather within moments of being introduced to this talking green bonfire, he gleefully accepts the power offered to him. He doesn’t even look for Sam’s body to verify what the green fireball has reported. If we are meant to empathize with the tragic origins of Alan Scott, why does he feel so little for his loss?
Scott’s lack of emotion is indicative of the fact that the writer’s interest in Sam’s death is not on the deceased but rather how this death affects or drives the protagonist.
Back in the 1990s, “Women in Fefrigerators” became a comics trope for any time a hero’s wife, girlfriend or Gal Friday was raped, murdered, mutilated or otherwise debased for the benefit of giving the protagonist a darker edge. (It actually dates back to an actual plot point in an old issue of Green Lantern.)
Is Sam going to be the first in a line of Gays in Refrigerators? Kyle Jinadu, the civilian husband of the X-Men’s Northstar, might want to start sleeping with one eye open.