That Was Fast: Green Lantern’s Boyfriend Killed Off Almost Immediately

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.

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  • PJ

    People are still sentimental about Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy and in some versions they don’t last longer than 10 pages/minutes.

  • YaomingYaoming

    Shouldn’t that headline have been “Spoiler Alert”?

  • hamoboy

    This does not surprise me in the least. It’s not even totally because of homophobia, it’s because the comics writers are talentless hacks who could NEVER muster the empathy to put themselves in the place of a LGBT person, let alone a woman or person of colour. This happens all the time, even when one writer knows what he/she is doing, the minute someone else takes the helm it all goes to shit because comics writers are better at thinking up cool superpowers than they are thinking about interesting character arcs or stories. Any iconic storylines the big heroes have to their name are through sheer coincidence, rather than any concerted effort on Marvel OR DC’s part.

  • Chronomaxx

    Speaking as a long time comic book reader, I wasn’t bothered by this. Alan Scott received his powers after being the sole survivor of a train wreck. In the Golden Age story he had no back story, no personality, no connections, he was just the lucky guy who happened to survive. In this one, at least we can see him as a person: successful, industrious, clever, gay and in love. That he doesn’t react in a horrible, sob-ridden hunt for Sam’s corpse isn’t unrealistic. He just went through an accident, had his body burned, was missing and eye, was in pain, and was being spoken to by a green flame. I think shock had something to do with it. Also, in the end when the green flame tells him to pick a symbol with which to channel his new powers through, Alan picks the ring he offered Sam as his symbol. The green flame even approves saying it will help him on his mission to remember his lost love and seek vengeance for him. I happen to have liked the issue and see it as progress that a character that has been around for 60+ years has been made over into a form that helps everyone be represented in the world of comics.

  • Max the Communist

    They killed him off before hot superhero sex and that is unforgivable!

  • Belize

    @hamoboy: “it’s because the comics writers are talentless hacks who could NEVER muster the empathy to put themselves in the place of a LGBT person, let alone a woman or person of colour.”

    LOL. Your outmoded self-righteousness does not make you sound smart, child–it only shows that you haven’t read comic books beyond Marvel and DC. Perhaps you can educate yourself before insulting an entire genre of art with your ignorance. Go away. The LGBT movement does not need people like you. You’re better suited fighting for “the other side” with that mentality.

    Ugh. Hicks.

  • Aquarelle

    @Belize: LOL. And people say *I’m* a cu nt.

  • Belize

    @Chronomaxx: “In the Golden Age story he had no back story, no personality, no connections, he was just the lucky guy who happened to survive. In this one, at least we can see him as a person: successful, industrious, clever, gay and in love.”

    You expect the vast majority of the loquacious, Madonna-laced QUEENS in this website to know that? I hate to break it to you love, but a great number of people who visit Queerty only know that Green Lantern is not a type of condom because his writers decided to give him a back story. It’s the same way they now know that Frank Ocean is a singer and not a perfume brand–he came out as bi and suddenly he’s their favorite singer. It’s quite sad.

  • hamoboy

    @Belize: Thanks for not bothering to read to the end of my comment before flinging shit. How “educated”. FYI, this is the last sentence of my comment:

    “Any iconic storylines the big heroes have to their name are through sheer coincidence, rather than any concerted effort on Marvel OR DC’s part.”

    That should imply to anyone of even marginal literacy that I am well aware of the existence of other comic publishers. Image makes awesome comics, and even DC and Marvel have sub-imprints that make awesome stuff (The Authority, Sandman, etc), but I stand by my statement because to most readers, all they ever see is the mainstream crap with stereotyped characters and insultingly stupid storylines. I do not think it is a coincidence that Gail Simone is the only female of note in DC’s writing lineup as it goes for broke being as sexist and stupid as possible. The first issue of the New 52 Catwoman and Outsiders made me mad enough to get my lighter and burn the fucking things. If comic writers want to see their artform succeed in a crowded market of books, ebooks, tv shows and youtube channels, they need to open their eyes and realize that a lot of their potential audience is not male, not white and not straight. If they don’t smarten the fuck up, they’ll lose these people with their stupid 1940’s era storylines.

  • hamoboy

    @Belize: P.S: Fuck off with your alpha-geek foolery and fuckery.

  • UsualPlayer

    The death of a love or family member is a common comic book trope:

    Spiderman had his Uncle Ben
    Batman’s parents

    The list is extensive

    I don’t have a problem with what they did because its to be expected

    The only real problem I had is that the emotions felt rushed. He didn’t even grieve, but that may come later and is likely a problem with a team-based book rather than one focused just on green lantern.

  • MJ (different from the other one)

    @UsualPlayer: I agree with this. I wasn’t even shocked to find out Sam was dead. It was all a part of the plan to create the hero in Alan Scott; to give him a reason why he fights. that was their plan, and they executed it. now onto the villain and introducing the next hero.

  • UsualPlayers

    @MJ (different from the other one): What would be interesting, but they are never going to go there- would be that Grundy is actually Sam. While I like the comic book, they are in the play by the comic book trope numbers mode and nothing so far is unexpected. That’s the real complaint- that they aren’t doing anything different with the characters other than making them gay or black or whatever. Thats’ not that interesting to me.

  • Nick

    Honestly who cares? The Green Lantern comic series sucks.

  • Honey

    @hamoboy: so just everytime an LGBTQ person dies because of an freak accident its a crime…? Right?

  • hamoboy

    @Honey: No, not at all. But as Anon kindly linked to, it’s a running stereotype. The straight version of this is not much better, but the fact they did it to a gay romantic partner they made a big deal out of a few weeks earlier made it all the more stupid. They could have:

    A. routed around falling into stereotype valley, have some other motivation for this LGBT hero given the history of LGBT relationships in the medium (ending in murder).
    B. not give a shit about “history” or “stereotypes” and just do the same ol’ cookie cutter gay plotlines.

    Guess which options DC, that bastion of narrative innovation and awesomeness chose?

  • hamoboy

    Arrrgh, I meant ending in murder/death/suicide/[insert ridiculous end here]

  • UsualPlayers

    @Anon: Actually no since comic books have their own tropes.

    So comparing the two mediums indicates you really don’t know much about comic books.

    Its the trope I mentioned. Which has nothing to do with being gay.

    The trope is the hero becomes the hero due to some tragedy in his or her life, normally a loved one getting killed.

    For Batman, it was his parents. For Daredevil, it was his father. For Elektra, it was her father. I mentioned Uncle Ben for Spiderman,b ut in the comic book its also Gwen Stacie, his first girlfriend who is killed that shapes Spiderman and the series. For Martian Manhunter, its his entire race that’s killed off. The list is so extensive in comic books- death = reason to become villian or hero- that it would be impossible to list them all. Right now in the Justice League the main villian is motivated because of the death of his children and wife.

    The trope has nothing to do with being gay or straight in comic books. Its just the trope of death being the reason for one becoming a hero or villian.

    What would be pandering is if they didn’t use the common trope. That somehow green lantern saved his love and became the green latnern anyway. That would be unusual

  • UsualPlayers

    Again, Anon is talking about TV. NOT comic books. As a comic book geek I hate when non-comic book geeks try to speak of something that they clearly no knowing about. This is not only unique to gays I have shown how it is actually the story that defines quite a few main stream character’s “origins” for becoming what they became. The death of a loved one is not about being gay. Its about a trope that , if you want to complain about it, is all to expected- the death of the loved one leading to the hero’s journey.

  • hamoboy

    @UsualPlayers: Honey, tvtropes is just the name of the website. They actually record tropes and examples of such tropes from every form of narrative fiction: books, fanfiction, tv series, movies, comics, webcomics, movies, oral legends, etc. Everything.
    Not every hero has the death of a loved one as their primary motivating factor (Wonder Woman (Amazonian ambassador), Jean Grey (controlling her Omega level powers), Hulk (getting everyone to leave him the heck alone)), and even when loss is the motivating factor, not every hero has to have that loved one lost be their romantic partner in order for them to be “motivated” (Spider Man (father figure), Batman (parents), Superman (entire planet along with family)).

  • Kayo

    @YaomingYaoming: Yes, if this website was directed to 13 year olds maybe?

  • hamoboy

    @UsualPlayers: I hate it when comic-book geeks think people criticizing comics aren’t comic book geeks. Maybe we’re comic book geeks that have seen the narrative innovations in other forms of fiction (like anything Joss Whedon has done, several shining examples of japanese manga and anime), and demand a higher standard of storytelling to go along with the pretty pictures in the comics? They spend a month slaving over incredibly gorgeous artwork, yet spend 5 minutes coming up with the most patently ridiculous stories (this is not EVERYONE, just MOST of the mainstream monthly comic titles).

  • Gay Bacon

    In the original series of Queer As Folk Ted dies in like the second or third episode…..Fast and disappointing, but you usually brush those off with a different fff *cough cough* series arc.

  • Polyboy

    Alan Scott’s origin. Everybody dies he’s given a mandate to save the world.

    After all the work Roberstson has done with gay visibility in comics, he should be given the latitude to work. All of this gnashing of teeth when it’s been all but telegraphed and mentioned on this very site that it’s going to happen is overwrought and premature.

    Seriously, this isn’t a Marvel book where the gay hero is touted by the EiC one week and stabbed to death a week later.

  • UsualPlayers

    Bluntly: if you are taking the position that the comic book trope of killing a loved one is somehow anti-gay, then you are a complete idiot because the facts prove otherwise.

    I just got through putting down Before Watchman with Ozymandias. Its the origins story of the character. The reason why they have him pick up a mask? Because the one he cares for dies of a drug overdose.

    So you can try to peronalize this all you want, it just shows how ignorant you are rather than some insight into the genre.

  • UsualPlayers

    @hamoboy: Look, its clear you are others know very little about comic books.

    What happens to Jean Grey is that she dies so that the rest of the X-men can learn a very important lesson about power and absolute power. Scott Summers you idiot was the point of all the several times she dies. He is her love interest. he is also a hero who leads the X-men, the group book she dies in.

    If you want to start using absurd phrases like “all” to back up your claim it just makes you and the rest of the idiots seems like you are just grasping at straws to justify putting down the comic book for being anti-gay rather than actually being able to substantiate that assertion with any amount of serious evidence that gays are being treated differently than straights.

    What you and others are actually advocating is that you want to be treated differently

    THe list of girls friends, hubands and significant others of all types who die are legion in comic books. the only one who don’t seem to know this is you and the other people trying to turn this into an anti-gay screed

    There are a plenty of reasons to attack comic books as anti gay both now and in the past. This isn’t one of them.

  • UsualPlayers

    @hamoboy: There is not a snowballs chance in hell you ae a comic book geek given your unawareness of something as basic as knowing that Jean Grey’s death redefine not just the X-men, but her love interest’s, Scot SUmmers, life.

    By the way- even Wonder Woman has as one of her motivated factors- that the gods just killed her mother.

    Whether it will stick, who knows. The point is death is used all the time as the motivation for the hero in comics.

    I’ve been able to name two that I read just this week after picking up my monthly stack so its funny that you and others persist in requiring that gays be treated uniquely

    If you want to complain, you should complain about the trope in general rather than how gays should be singled out as not marked for death like other orgin story significant others

    Its like the way now comics have gays in perfect relationships where nothing ever happens and they stay together forever

    This is a reaction to the fear that gay people will be angry if they aren’t shown as real people- some in relationship, some not, some cheating, some sleeping around, etc. The point is to show variety, but that won’t happen if every story is turned into “we must treat the gay characters with kids gloves”

  • Ben

    Green lantern story is my favorite. I even loved when they developed the emotional spectrum. I understand that killing Alan’s gay lover within the second issue but it still drives the similar purpose of him surviving a train crash.

  • HM

    Comic Books. For guys who don’t have the balls to admit they watch soaps.

  • UsualPlayer

    Repeating a link that has nothing to do with the topic or context does not prove your point
    It just makes you seem like someone with an agenda besides the truth.

    Or a troll

  • Charles


  • hamoboy

    @UsualPlayers: “The point is to show variety” Lol lol lol lol lol… Oh gawd that was funny. Nobody is saying gay characters need to be treated special. You are constructing a strawman which you are then burning down. Fine, if you think these comic stories are awesome and interesting and blah blah blah, well it’s obvious that Marvel and DC are doing something right. But as their sales plummet, it just shows that you are in the minority.
    Protip: stop using small storylines (Wonder Woman’s mother dying) as big canonical *DEATH*. In most stories, she is alive, so that doesn’t count. Jean Grey got 15 years of being an iconic X-man before her first “death”, and due to the rules of the comic book universe, she came back, died, came back and died again. She’s due for another return in a few years time. The fact that most fans can predict this speak volumes about how shitty and predictable most of the storylines are.
    These “deaths” above aren’t the same thing as the origin story deaths, because they are not permanent, or at least they are not a defining part of the character, so different franchise writers can feel free to retcon them back into the storyline.
    Have fun keeping Marvel and DC in business by rewarding them for their stupidity. Stupid comics = stupid fans. I read Image mostly, because they don’t spew shit most of the time.

  • Anthony

    The comic was never going to be Green Lantern and his significant other. The boyfriend, like everything else in the comic is a device to move the plot forward. His next boyfriend will move the plot forward again. I think Sam was actually just the easiest way for the writer to introduce the concept that Alan Scott was, in fact, gay. No actual gays were shoved into refrigerators in the making of this comic.

  • UsualPlayers

    @hamoboy: I realize you and others are trolling and this site really doesn’t matter, but let’s try this one more time.

    The problem here is basic logic, or your lack of it.

    I point out that a common comic book trope is to kill a significant other- gay or straight – off to start the hero or villains journey.

    You keep responding that there is a tv trope of killing gays off.

    For your argument to work here with comic books logically you would have to show that the killing off of the significant other here is about the character being gay. That’s the threshold as far as logical arguments for you even making your point.

    You can’t make that argument. Why? Because both straight and gays are killed off to start the heroes journey.

    So yes, you are asking under the logical circumstances for special treatment since gays would have to singled out. This is just logic. You can babble as much as you want, and I don’t expect logic to affect you at any point (I mean why should it now since the argument has been obvious from the start since I offered the argument about the comic book trope), but it really is pass silly to keep arguing “I am right because I can link to examples of a different trope singling out gay characters.). The irony of course is that if one were to follow your argument- then whereas in TV ending the singling out for gays would lead to life. Here, to keep true to how heteros are treated in the comic book, the following the trope of killing off a significant other would have to be followed to not treat gays as special.

    That’s why logically I said that you are asking for special treatment.

    So type as many “LOL” and post as many distractions as you would like. The problem here is basic logic of what would happen in a story to match what you seem to be advocating. The gay significant other logically would have to survive, which in terms of a comic book trope would be singling out the gay significant other for special treatment (because we aren’t supposed to die because of society’s absue against us). Which may make you feel better, but it is singling us out in this case for special treatment and that treatment is not about ending discrimination.

  • UsualPlayers

    @Anthony: Yes you are mostly getting this from the perspective of the writing. The real time to complain is if another boyfriend does not show up in the series at some later point.

    In comic books, this type of kill the significant other is pretty normal, but whats not normal would be a neutered character that has no sigifnicant other eventualy after the death.

    This is where a comic book fan should have a problem. Not with this death, which was to be expected. So its a wait and see.

  • Phil

    It lasted about as long as most gay relationships.

  • Graeme

    Why would LGBT who don’t read comics be annoyed about this? Or even concerned about it? Just because it’s about a gay fictional character they’ve never heard of before? Or was even aware existed?

    And those that read comics would know that this sort of thing happens all the time, it just happened to be a gay character this time. Big deal.

  • Q

    If they were gonna kill him off as part of Scott’s origin then it would have been ridiculous to keep people strung along for more than a few issues. I mean, you’re reading a Green Lantern book. You want to see a Green Lantern, not a couple (gay or straight) going on vacation and having dinner for five issues.

  • Hyhybt

    I’m just curious why the quoted section seems to think he should feel REMORSE.

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