Friday, March 25, 2005

Regarding what is apparently the ONLY reason anyone has anything to say about Young Avengers

Apparently there is some question about whether or not Hulkling and Lightning Lad from Young Avengers are a gay couple. I'd be lying if said I didn't suspect the same thing after I read the first issue, and I think the real intrigue isn't found in the few lines of dialogue from the comic that raised the questions, but in the fan response to the author's hints (misdirection?).

Like everyone else, my first suspicion was that Lightning Lad wanted his staff in the back door of Gamma Base. But I developed an alternate theory--and certainly a less controversial one--that the writer may be pulling the wool over our eyes.

Hulk and Thor are fierce rivals. Everyone knows that. Hulk vs. Thor debates clog the Internet like cell phone callers on subways and buses. It's indicative of one of the major differences between the superheroes of DC and Marvel. Read Identity Crisis and you get the feeling that everyone in the DCU has everyone else's pager numbers. Read Secret Wars and you learn that, when brought together to work towards a common goal, Marvel's stars would often rather beat the shit out of each other than do what needs to get done.

A back issue that would normally sell for pennies skyrockets in price if you put Hulk and Thor on the cover pounding on each other. Go check the Comics Guide's prices for Defenders #9 (the first volume) and Defenders #11 and compare them to the "Avengers/Defenders War" issue where Thor and Hulk fight--Defenders #10--and tell me that I'm wrong.

So maybe, just maybe, the Young Avengers writer is making a joke out of this? Teenaged, less mature versions of Hulk and Thor treat each other with more respect and generosity than maybe any comic book superhero male duo, whereas the more mature versions will start throwing punches at the drop of a winged hat, usually destroying enough square blocks to adversely affect three separate Starbucks in the process? Yeah, maybe, that might be a joke. Sounds like one. Looks like one. Could be.

But maybe not. What are we basing our suspicions on? I don't have either of the first two issues right in front of me, but as I recall, in the first issue Hulkling and Lightning Lad compliment each other on their fighting ability. In the second, after Lightning Lad mentions that he feels he's getting better at flying, Hulkling responds with something along the lines of, "You don't know how happy that makes me."


Now that's gay. That's gayer than gay. "You don't know how happy that makes me?" I bet gay people have said that before. Just hearing that phrase makes the sons who haven't been conceived in my non-pregnant girlfriend's uterus want to live a life of crime just so they can be thrown in prison where they'll be able introduce interior decoration to the penal system and get gang-raped by sexy white supremacists.

My sarcasm is directed right back at me, by the way. Like I said, I suspect it just like everyone else, which is what makes the response to this thing so fascinating.

I'm sure a lot of folks remember the "Free Your Mind" spots MTV used to run (I haven't watched MTV in a while so I don't know if they still run these). There was one in particular, where two cowboys face off in the middle of a desert, their hands at their guns. They eye each other warily, step forward, and suddenly clasp each other and start dancing. Afterwards, the screen reads something along the lines of "Would you rather they shot each other?"

Am I the only one who detects a similarity here?

For years, Hulk and Thor have happily volunteered as each other's punching bag and punching bag-ee, and we've lapped it up. We watch these two so-called "heroes" obliterate property, businesses, livelihoods, and lives (you KNOW all of those buildings weren't condemned just as well as I do) in what are basically super-powered bar brawls, and we'll pay quadruple for 'em if we can get them NM five years after the fact. We scan particular panels as proof in the online debates about who REALLY won (even though neither ever have or ever will, and you know that, too). And when we somehow think they should have fought, but they don't--as was the case with many who read the Avengers/Defenders battle in The Order who whined that their new and improved (and subsequently DEAD) Uber-Thor didn't get a chance to tussle with the Hulk--it's considered so heinous an act that the authors should be kidnapped by Israeli Special-Ops and flown to Nuremberg for trial.

And we never question whether or not that's okay.

But Hulkling tells Lightning Lad he did a good job in a fight against criminals, and not only do we all suddenly assume that Hulk's younger counterpart wants to shove his Green Destiny down Lightning Lad's throat, but debates about homosexuality in comic books erupt all over the net.

In the meantime, when the Hulk throws an entire fucking train on Thor's head in the last Hulk/Thor battle Stan Lee ever wrote, thereby causing an explosion which destroyed an entire trainyard (property, livelihoods, businesses, lives) over what was nothing more than a grudge match, our only questions are along the lines of whether or not Thor was wearing his belt of strength, whether or not this shows Hulk's strength level goes above the 100 ton mark, which of Hulk's 3,498,573,956,948,564 incarnations was at work, if anyone can make some wicked-ass wallpaper out of the panel, etc.

Perspective. Subscribe today.

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