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Percival Pinkerton

This bio has a very narrow focus that involves remarks by Stan Lee, one of the character’s creators. Please see Marvel’s entry for an in-depth character history.

Former Marvel executive was one of two guests in a segment of CNN’s In the Crossfire”. The other guest was Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition. The show’s hosts, Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala, had invited the two to comment on the then new and controversial gay Rawhide Kid. Lee’s closing remark in the transcript: “… had a gay character. One member of the platoon was called, I think, Percy Pinkerton. He was gay. We didn’t make a big issue of it. In this comic book that I read, the word gay wasn’t even used. He’s just a colorful character who follows his own different drummer. He follows a different beat. But we’re not proselytizing for gayness.” A full transcript of the segment can be found at this  link.

In Pinkerton’s introductory story the character reports to Able Company and receives a welcoming that’s less than friendly at the start. As you can see from the images Pinkerton arrives on base in uniform but is also wearing a beret tam o’shanter (see comment below), a decidedly un-masculine hat by contemporary American standards, and carrying an umbrella, immediately putting his demeanor at odds with the other soldiers in the company. Wearing glasses sets him apart as well. Dum Dum Dugan, Izzy, and others seize on his differences and ridicule him. The three soldiers (Seymour, Harry, and the third one whose name I don’t know) strike campy, effeminate poses and use words to reinforce their gestures. Pinkerton amazes the soldiers when he quite calmly uses his umbrella to make a point by lifting and tossing about one of the taunting soldiers. That’s one very sturdy umbrella! This unique display earns him respect from the soldiers, who accept him as one of their own upon learning of Pinkerton’s placement in Able Company.

Based on these few panels and the nickname “Pinky” one can see that perhaps Lee did intend for Pinkerton to be gay. The Comics Code Authority would’ve censored any usage of words to indicate homosexuality. Did Lee resort to using comical, stereotype ideas to subvert censors and convey Pinkerton’s sexuality or was he trying to express the notion that heroes need not be exclusive to the domain of the idealized masculine champion, itself a stereotype. Was Lee simply trying to defuse the Rawhide Kid controversy by putting a positive spin on part of a character’s background that is open to interpretation? Only Lee knows.

Lee’s comments of 2002 on Pinkerton’s sexuality contradict the character’s backstory he wrote in Sgt. Fury #23 which established Pinky as a playboy as well as being the owner of a Playboy-like club as shown in Sgt. Fury annual #3.

Additional sub-text in other Sgt. Fury stories or related appearances that could support Pinkerton’s alleged homosexuality has not been brought to light.

Created by Stan Lee and Dick Ayers. Pinkerton first appeared in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #8 and has been affiliated with the  Howling Commandos, Dirty Dozen, SHIELD.

Art by Dick Ayers.

All rights reserved Marvel Entertainment.

July 31, 2021
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