Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Shining a Lantern on Hate Crimes: DC Comics' Green Lantern Shows That Even Superheroes Can Be Affected by Gay Bashing. (Media)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Shining a Lantern on Hate Crimes: DC Comics' Green Lantern Shows That Even Superheroes Can Be Affected by Gay Bashing. (Media)

Article excerpt

Over the years, comic book superheroes have confronted and done battle with numerous breeds of villainy: evil aliens, diabolical thieves, and mad scientists. Now, thanks to a daring story line in DC Comics' popular Green Lantern series, a trio of fag bashers who assault a gay teen can be added to that rogues' gallery.

"Comics have always stood up and said, `Here's an issue or subject that needs to be looked at,'" says DC editor Bob Schreck, 47, explaining why it was important to bring a Matthew Shepard-esque hate-crime scenario and its complicated aftermath to the all-ages medium. Antigay hate crimes have been depicted before in comics--in the first issue of Drawn & Quarterly's Palookaville, for instance--yet never before in such a mainstream iconic superhero-based title (DC is part of AOL Time Warner).

A hot seller these days, Green Lantern revolves around an interstellar legion of defenders bearing powerful rings emblazoned with an emerald lantern logo. The group's current leader is Kyle Rayner, a Manhattan comic strip artist by day. Green Lantern's issue 154 (on sale in September) kicks off the two-part "Hate Crime" story arc. In it, Terry Berg, Kyle's gay 17-year-old art assistant, is chased down, caught, and battered into a coma by a trio of bashers. Outraged and vengeful, Kyle suits up as Green Lantern and viciously confronts the homophobes--breaking the wrists of one during a visceral interrogation scene. With help from guest stars such as Batman and the Flash, he also learns lessons in undoing the past and combating intolerance, which Schreck hopes the comic itself will do.

Terry and "Hate Crime" had their genesis with writer Ron Marz, Green Lantern scribe from 1993 to 2000. Partly as tribute to Schreck, who is openly bisexual, Marz expressed the intention to tell a gay Lantern story, but he left the title before he could fulfill that aim. Schreck and subsequent writer Judd Winick, fueled by the hate crime-related deaths of Shepard and Brandon Teena and by the harassment all gay youth suffer, introduced Terry. Winick, of course, comes to the book experienced with gay issues--he was on MTV's Real World in San Francisco, and his friendship with gay housemate and AIDS activist Pedro Zamora inspired his GLAAD Award-winning graphic novel, Pedro and Me. …

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