I haven’t been terribly impressed with Bill Willingham’s run on Justice Society of America to date, mostly because I’ve found the Captain Nazi story uninteresting and interminable and the expansion of the cast into two titles frustrating. But issue 40, which came out last week, was actually surprisingly very good. Yeah, it wraps up the Nazi story with a bit of a deus ex machina and it’s very obviously only meant as a bridge to the cross-over with Justice League, but apart from that it was a good, character-focused look at Obsidian, an under-used character at the best of times, and an angst-free look at that.

There was, however, one note that didn’t quite ring true.

Yeah, it’s just a joke…but it’s a joke about a subject that ruins peoples lives and that ideological doctors are actually pursuing.

So maybe a conservative straight guy who occasionally writes for right-wing blogs isn’t the one who should be making jokes like that, is all I’m saying.

Still, the good thing about this is that this was what was passing for gay humor in 1972 in “liberal” Mad magazine.

Yeah, I’ll take the conservative who means well over the liberal bigot on this subject, any day.

17 Responses to “A Bit Tone Deaf”
  1. Siskoid says:

    Check out that disappointed Magog.

  2. Tales to Enrage says:

    Would it have rung true if we’d gotten a reaction shot from the rest of the group before he announced it was a joke? Or would that have made it worse?

  3. puff says:

    I think a joke in this context, re: sticking it to the stodgy, disapproving, WW2 era members of the Society, could work if the Obsidian character had been shown previously to be a bit of a joker and if it weren’t done in a ham-handed fashion.

    But as I remember, he’s pretty much always been a bit morose. Actually, calling him a bit morose may be a bit of an understatement. So the page rings wrong. The character rings wrong. And the story ends on a discordant note.

    In addition, it reads like a tacked on “we’re a page short” unnecessary scene. Better if they gave us a “day in the life” page…saving kittens from trees, putting out fires, barbecuing with family, etc. Heck, they could have shown Todd reuniting with his significant other at Alan’s BBQ if they wanted to play the Alan disapproves of his son’s lifestyle card and given Alan the turd-in-the-punch-bowl look on his face…would have been way classier than this and more story and society sensitive.

    I started to say something about Todd not having an on-camera significant other. But with the cast size in the book, if they did start showing his S-O, he’d turn out to be a supervillain or a supervillain’s thrall. And, I’d guess, that would be the case with any S-O’s who show up in a book with this many characters.

    Would it be more glaring if they introduced a gay S-O for Todd and, then, down the road revealed him to be a bad guy than if they introduced a straight S-O/villain apprentice for Maxine or Courtney?

    On that note, has there ever been a gay comic book villain, openly or not? Or is this one of those instances where the suits in their editorial towers have the sticks so far up their asses that they can’t conceive of a world where evil dances in all the shades of the rainbow, just like good does.

    Of course, another consideration pops in my head. What if it isn’t Todd in the scene above, but someone masquerading as him? My money is on it being him, but that would explain the out-of-characterishness of the scene. Shrug.

  4. François says:

    Doesn’t Todd have his boyfriend from the Manhunter series anymore?

  5. CandidGamera says:

    Well, I laughed. Both at this, and the Jay Garrick ‘got your noses’ thing. And I do love Alan’s facial expression in that last panel there.

  6. Hal Shipman says:

    Yeah, there’s a reaction shot missing, where they all look at each other and “wtf?”

    But yeah, Dorian’s right on the money.

    Overall, actually, a very, very strange issue. And I think it says something about the arc that my partner and I were both confused by the Mr. Terrific scene without going back to previous issues. We both asked, “Who is that girl? Huh, must be the woman interviewing him, but not really getting the significance of the scene.”

    Super-rushed, but at least it rehabilitated Obsidian, More concretely than Manhunter did. Finally.

  7. Scott says:

    That’s a great face on Alan. He looks more embarrassed for his son’s terrible joke than anything, but Jay is all frowny, too. I get the feeling Jay’s thinking “Why do those people always have to talk about it?”

  8. Rocco says:

    I’m so glad I stopped picking up JSA when I did.

  9. Tim O'Neil says:

    The other thing about this issue is the space also devoted to just how awesome Mr. Terrific is as well. I thought it was quite interesting, considering the specific criticism he got over how he treated his most prominent gay and black characters at the outset of his run, that this issue was specifically devoted to how the gay and black characters are really the most awesome characters ever.

    I thought the joke was pretty weird, for all the reasons you mentioned, but I guess his “heart is in the right place,” whatever the hell that means. He’s trying to prove he doesn’t think all the non-straight, non-WASPs should be rounded up for the reeducation camps, but for some strange reason I don’t quite believe him.

  10. Dorian says:

    puff– Obsidian has a significant other, but he’s a supporting character for the Manhunter title and has yet to appear in JSA. At all. Ever. In fact, the joke scene may actually be the second time Obsidian’s sexuality has come up since he joined the team. But that’s more to do with how little he’s actually been used in the book.

    DC actually has a gay villain pair, Cannon and Sabre, but their dead/not dead status is up in the air. They were killed off years ago, but keep showing up in crowd scenes.

  11. Scott says:

    No one wants to mention the Brain and Monsieur Mallah as gay icons?

  12. Lugh says:

    Does the Pied Piper count since he came out after he became a good guy or at least an ally of Wally West? Also, isn’t he dead or something?

  13. Dorian says:

    Scott–While both Mallah and the Brain identify as male, one is a talking gorilla and the other is a brain in a jar. I’m not sure you can really call them a gay couple, in those circumstances.

  14. Scott says:

    Dorian, I don’t know if I’m comfortable with the discrimination against non-mainstream relationships. Brains in jars and talking gorillas have as much right to happiness as anyone(well technically they’ve waived those rights by becoming fugitives, but whatever).

    Why can Mallah talk, anyway? Is he a transplanted brain, or one of Grodd’s cousins, or what?

  15. Jason says:

    Wait, “Cannon and Sabre” are the gay villain pair? Who the heck came up with those names?

  16. GayProf says:

    Is it wrong that I would actually like to watch the pretend show in Mad magazine? A fey commando group of gay people trying to win a unisex world sounds more like my typical Tuesdays.

    I used to have the Mad spoof of Star Wars from 1977. It was horrific how many “fag” jokes they made around C-3PO.

  17. Chris T says:

    could swear that I’ve seen this gag, the one from JSA, somewhere before… some TV show or movie..?

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