Comics / Cult Favorite

A Great Metropolitan Newspaper?


By Philip Schweier
October 13, 2021 - 13:35

Earlier this week, The New York Times* headline read “Superman Comes Out.” This comes only a month after DC Comics announced Robin the Boy Wonder was going to come out.

This dramatic shift in these characters is controversial at best. Superman first appeared in 1938, Robin debuted in 1941. Along with Batman and Wonder Woman, they arguably represent the most senior heroes within the DC Comics pantheon. Each has been admired by generations of children who watched their exploits in live-action TV and animated cartoons.

But let’s be clear: neither soon-to-be-gay character is the version most of mainstream America is familiar with.

This is NOT the “strange visitor from another planet.” That Superman, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, married Lois Lane, and in 2015, their son, Jonathan, was introduced, later adopting the super-hero role of Superboy. Following a trip through the cosmos, he returned to Earth as a young adult, and has become the heir apparent for the title of Superman.

Nor is this the familiar Dick Grayson character many people would recognize. Dick Grayson grew up and shed his “boy wonder” image. This Robin is Tim Drake, introduced in 1989, eventually inheriting the Robin identity and becoming Batman’s third crime fighting partner.

People who know I’m a big Superman fan asked me for my thoughts on these developments. The fact is, my enthusiasm as a DC Comics fan died years ago. The stories did not engage me, I believe the art was overworked, and the financial investment for ongoing storylines was a burden.

Whether Jon Kent and Tim Drake are gay, straight, or anywhere in between, I’m personally indifferent. However, what does bother is the general public’s expectation that these announcements pertain to the original Clark Kent and Dick Grayson versions. I don’t begrudge others for not being familiar with current DC Comics lore.

As with so much, we should blame the media.

The New York Times headline read “Superman Comes Out.” This statement is misleading, less than accurate, and irresponsible reporting. A more accurate headline would be “Superman’s SON Comes Out.” Is that so hard? But accuracy has taken a back-seat to click-throughs in this era of the 24-hour news cycle.

As these character developments play out, I anticipate the controversy over their sexuality will die down. The characters will settle into the background of the DC Universe – the same as Batwoman and the Alan Scott Green Lantern, two other non-binary DC Comics heroes.

And the comic book world will continue to turn.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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