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Monday, September 13, 2004
Marvel and Gay Characters: Hulk Magazine #23
So Bruce Banner is staying in the YMCA and decides to take a shower. As he enters he is eyed by two...well, to be honest, I'm not quite sure what they're supposed to be. Are they meant to be gay? Are they meant to be members of a street gang? Are they meant to be members of a gay street gang?
Ah...see, they are meant to be gay. With all of the subtle writing we've learned to expect from Jim Shooter, not only do they have vaguely fruity names like "Dewey" and "Luellen," but they're clearly interested in Bruce for his body. I'm going to give Shooter the benefit of the doubt here and presume he didn't intend to imply any racial subtext by having the African-American gentlemen make the comments about "pearly white" skin...
Apparently this pair makes a habit out of this, hence the "cutie from Akron" line. Wow, so they're not just rapists, they're promiscuous rapists...as all gay men are, don't you know. And with Bruce on his knees and Dewey reaching for his pants, it seems pretty clear that Bruce is about to face a fate worse than death...
Funny, then, that he never changes into the Hulk. According to the text, Bruce doesn't change because apparently he's "more afraid" of turning into the Hulk than of doing something that will disqualify him from Military service. I, unsurprisingly, prefer the deconstructive reading. That is, the text is saying something the author didn't necessarily consciously intend. Which is, of course, that part of Bruce actually wants this to happen to him. I also prefer this reading because, let's face it, how naive are you to have been living in New York in the late 70s/early 80s and not realize that the YMCA is one of those places where men go to have sex with other men. There's even a song about it, for pity's sake.
Luckily for the teenage boys and arrested adolescents who make up the Hulk's readership, Bruce doesn't have to make with the oral pleasuring, as he convinces Dewey that he's actually...the Hulk, and that he'll change into the Hulk and kill him if he tries to do anything to him. And he then runs away...naked. And, just in case we still weren't clear, Shooter has Dewey lisp...as all gay men do, don't you know.
Finally, we get something that only adds to the deconstructive reading. Bruce finally does change, but only because of the "horror" and "revulsion" he feels. At himself, perhaps? Anger at his possible secret desire triggering the change to the Hulk? As if to drive the point home, the sequence seems to draw tremendous attention to the Hulk's ass.