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An Egg, A Rug, A Jay, and A Warrior

Art by Jesus Merino
Art by Jesus Merino

Back in January of this year the news that Bill Willingham would follow as JSA writer in the wake of Geoff John’s departure caused some concern. Pointing at Willingham’s conservative viewpoints, questions were raised regarding how, or even if, Willingham would handle Obsidian, a character whose homosexuality after years of fan speculation was confirmed by writer Marc Andreyko in the pages of the lamented by me Manhunter.

In a CBR interview conducted by Jeffrey Renaud, Willingham wrote:  “Obsidian. I love that character. Mostly for the untapped potential in my mind and the stories I have been dying to tell that only that character is right for and has never been covered and I’m going to be eternally thankful to Geoff Johns. “

“But to get back to your question, I am thankful to Geoff Johns for doing what I would consider to be a huge favor, and I have no idea why he did it because it was way before any notion that we would be coming up, but he took Obsidian sort of off camera, off stage for a long time. He made him kind of a do-nothing background character, a sort of force inhabiting the brownstone as a security system. He was that little set of numbers that you go “boom, boom, boom, boom,” and that was his role. Not a lot has been done with the character. He was evil for a while. Geoff took Obsidian and let him lay low for a while so when we take him to the forefront again, it’s brand new and fresh and invigorated. What a wonderful gift. So Obsidian is going to be a major focus for me. As a matter of fact, so much so, that he appears in the very first panel of the very first issue. “

Andy Mangels invited Willingham to appear as a panelist at this summer’s Gays In Comics panel. Charming in manner, Willingham stated he was aware of gay reader concern about Obsidian under his tenure. “No, Obsidian will not be cured of his homosexuality, but no, I won’t treat him well,” said the writer, clarifying that the bread and butter of superhero stories is to place these characters with all kinds of adversity. That’s a fair attitude that I can agree with. Catch a podcast of the ’09 GIC panel. Willingham’s comments are between 10:26 and 15:07.

Willingham’s first issue, along with co-writer Matthew Sturges, is #29. Yes, Obsidian does appear right as the story opens, only you wouldn’t know it glancing through the pages. That’s because Obsidian has been mysteriously turned into a large, dense, black egg shape. Obsidian’s father, Alan Scott (AKA the orginal Green Lantern) and Mr. Terrific examine the egg and determine it is Todd in “an extremely degraded state.” Oh, Alan, stating the obvious there, aren’t you? Alan had to call off the exam because it was causing Todd to deteriorate more because Alan’s devices conjured by his ring were made of pure light while Todd is made of “raw darkness and well, the two don’t exactly mix.” It’s just as well Todd’s exam stops here and for the rest of the story arc because it’s more important to move the big gang of super villains onstage to hand the Justice Society their collective asses, and otherwise have the JSA snipe at, threaten, and in one instance, beat up the other members, and one new rookie member apparently murders Mr. Terrific or is he being framed? In any case, it’s all there to serve the editorial decision to have the team split into two groups, one of which will be in the new companion JSA book.

But it’s okay. In this week’s JSA #32, Power Girl lets us know she hasn’t forgotten that Obsidian was attacked when she makes a big speech. It looks like Alan has though because he’s up to his tits involved with the new Dr. Fate trying to find a way to resurrect Mr. Terrific. There’s one more issue in this arc, so it may not be fair to draw a conclusion on how well Willingham is handling Obsidian. Is being a dense, large black egg better than being a shadowy security system? Hmm, that’s difficult.

Being an egg is definitely better than being a rug though.  A decorative floor covering au courant for Sarah Palin and the National Rifle Association  was the fate of Tasmanian Devil at the hands of Prometheus as recounted in flashback and exposition by James Robinson in Justice League: Cry For Justice #3. Turned in to the meta human equivalent of a bear skin rug, Taz was. Who knows if Taz’ boyfriend Joshua Barbizon has a clue. Does the metahuman community have someone who notifies loved ones? Blue Jay, seen as sexually ambiguous by many, encounters Despero in Robinson’s initial Justice League issue (#38), and winds up lying unconscious, bleeding, and looking rather dead. Robinson twitted the day the issue hit stores: “@TecJohnson I wouldn’t assume you’ve seen the last of Blue Jay. I consider him a little guy with a big future.”

Okay, we’ll see what Robinson does with Blue Jay. No matter what though, Taz’s death is still an example of lazy writing.

Looks like being turned into an egg isn’t such a bad turn of events after all.

There’s good news if you like lean, blond warriors who like–make that starred in–gladiator movies. That is unless you stopped reading Wonder Woman because she can’t match your interpretation of Wonder Woman, a fate that 98% percent of the character’s writers seemingly share. Brought to life by the heart of another god murdered by Zeus, Achilles raised some eyebrows in #36 with his comment during his proposoal to Alkyone after sparring with her. She insisted ot would be a marriage of state only with no sex. He replied, “Of course not! I would never…I don’t even…No. Let no shadow, no unwelcome worry enter your…your heart.”

A poster on DC’s WW board named Talig 71 commented about this. Simone replied: “Yeah, no point in being coy. Historically, Achilles was bi, but in this era, he’s absolutely gay” and followed it with: “It’s just part of who he is. DC has a ton of lesbians, but not that many gay heroes or even anti-heroes. He’s not meant to be a token, I think he’s a pretty cool character on his own and if he gets a chance to shine, I think we’ll see that–up till now it’s mostly been potential.”

Here’s to seeing more Achilles! I just hope Achilles’ dead lover Patroclus comes back from the dead, but not as a Black Lantern! And keep James Robinson away from Achilles!

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