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If you like your superheroes to be LGBT, the news is good, sort of. “Queer” seems to be the new super power everyone’s copping to. The Green Lantern, aka Alan Scott, came out as gay, and the cover of X-Men #51 hosts North Star’s nuptials to his guy Kyle. Not to leave out the ladies, we discovered a while ago Batwoman was a lesbian, and while not a superhero, it’s good to know Kevin Keller is keeping it real, and gay, with Archie, Veronica, Betty and Reggie.
But all this gay goodwill still leaves me a little cold. For one thing, slapping a gay marriage on your cover is bound to sell lots of copies to rabid fanboy collectors, who don’t care what it’s about as long as they can slip a plastic cover on and sell it later. Also, if only one out of dozens of superheroes is LGBT, even if they have a partner, they’re still pretty much stuck in a gay ghetto as far as the superhero work place is concerned. Like, why can’t we read about Wonder Woman hanging out on the Amazon island Themyscir with other super-powered dykes? Why does the trademark have to be so dang strong that instead of reading innovative new gay versions of Batman and Robin, we have to read the straight Batman’s origin story over and over and over? Finally, where are the hordes of gay superheroes, the queer X-Men, Justice League and New Avengers running through the streets fighting crime as teams?
Thank you Martin Eden! This Brit gets it. Not only does he give us a team of seven LGBT superheroes, he makes them sexy, smart, and most of all sassy and funny to boot.
This book pulls three shorter books together inside one cover. It hits the ground running when a 50-foot lesbian attacks Brighton Beach(which, Eden shared, is the UK’s gay capital and which I was glad to add to my earlier-formed picture of the city from Teds vs. the Mods UK flicks). The pacing of this first book is a little confusing, what with the introduction of both superheroes and their alter-identities, plus a few Briticisms. It helps that the back of the book has a bit of explanation about each hero. Love that Liberty, the soul of the team, is a drag queen. Love the names Glitter, Mr. Muscles, and Butch, and I’m totally jazzed that the character Prowler has a tail! I mean – a tail besides superpowers! Very sexy!
I was disappointed that the attack of the 50-foot lesbian doesn’t amount to much. Yeah, she breaks up a few piers and is generally grumpy. But if she showed up in a U.S.version of the comic, I’d at least make her go to the Michigan Women’s Music Fest and bust things up, or get her period or something. Instead we learn she’s cranky because she needs a woman’s kiss. She needs some lessons in rampaging from Hothead Paisan.
Luckily the second story picks up steam, with an infestation of pink ninjas. The crew gains a new member too named Neon (Miochi), a Japanese Dragonball manga type (yes, he has anime hair). I giggled at some of the kidding around that develops, like when the team decides to depart to Japan, and Liberty quips, “What else is there to do on a Sunday, except watch the Antiques Roadshow?” Guess it’s kind of the same on both sides of the pond.
Nadir is on the loose in tale three. She’s a female villain who steals people’s personalities, leaving behind blank, gray beings. Luke and Miochi start lusting after each other while all this is going on. That’s another thing that makes this better than mainstream superhero comics. The characters do more than just kiss. For example, behind everyone’s back Butch is hooking up with Pussy, a villain. And Prowler and Indigo, though queer, end up in bed together.
Eden’s characters proportions are more indie than mainstream superhero – don’t come here if you’re looking for massive thighs or monstrous breasts. His drawing style is simple but emotionally expressive enough to draw you into the characters, and inspire you to follow their stories. I look forward to more books from him, if not so much for the silly superhero exploits as to watch his characters develop and grow.
Spandex: Fast and Hard
By Martin Eden
Hardcover, 9780857689733, 96 pp.