Hidden Connections? (Or, Destroying Superman with a Vibrator)

Standard

Note: I am in the process of closing out the two blogs I created before this one and am transferring their contents here, so please bear with the sudden appearance of these “old” essays &cet.]

“A hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one.” — Heraclitus of Ephesus

By Scott Ross

Somewhere in Gerald Jones’ pop history Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book, Jack Kirby admits that as an adolescent in the 1930s he masturbated to the homoerotic imagery in superhero comics. Since I’ve long suspected there is an unacknowledged connection between the hyper-masculine anatomy of the Marvel/DC universes and rabid fan-boy mentality — made explicit by Michael Chabon in The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay — Kirby’s statement (I don’t have Men of Tomorrow at hand, so I can’t quote him verbatim) did not surprise me, although it’s the only such confession by a heterosexual member of the comics fraternity I’ve encountered.

Kirby boys-brotherhood-republic1935-age18

The young Jack Kirby with fellow comic mavens.

Alan Moore, an exception to every rule, frequently attacks homophobia. In addition, his The Mirror of Love consists of an epic poem on same-sex romance, and there are positive gay characterizations in his superb Top Ten series. Participating in a panel on homosexuality in comics Moore noted, “I was never tempted to sort of suggest a gay relationship between Batman and Robin. I mean, come on, that has been the subject of infantile jokes, many of which I laughed at when I was at school. It’s not really saying anything interesting or important. It’s an attempt to shock and outrage, and it’s very middle class.”

Of course, we’re living in a very different world from the one Stan Lee and his compatriots grew up in and, later, worked through. It was the era of that infamous charlatan Frederick Wertham (M.D.) whose specious, hysterical and largely fabricated attack on the comic book, Seduction of the Innocent, led to Congressional hearings and the formation of the Comics Code Authority, the “funny book” equivalent of the equally mendacious and woebegone Motion Picture Production Code (and its hypocritical offshoot, the MPAA Ratings Board.) Aside from “openly gay” artists like Howard Cruse (does anyone ever say “openly straight”?) or the, essentially one-joke, re-imagining of The Rawhide Kid in 2003, and the gay-bashed Terry Berg in Green Lantern, there is the celebrated (and now “gay-married”) Kevin Keller of the Archie comics.

Since I’m not by any means a superhero expert — my comics of choice as a child were of the “funny animal” variety (Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Looney Toons characters. Terrytoons, the Harvey line and, later, those strange Charlton Comics) — I’m sure there are other, and better, examples. The point is that subterfuge no longer seems necessary, or desirable. Especially, perhaps, for a more knowing, ironic, audience, one that sees what Moore calls the “infantile” in anything remotely double-edged, intentional or not.

Which brings us to the nub, as it were: The many, and often jaw-dropping, period comic book howlers that increasingly show up on the ‘net. Even if we grant that changes in slang and other verbal nomenclature can alter the meaning of much — the very word “gay” had, to the wider culture, a much different meaning in the West even as recently as 40 years ago — the fact that these allegedly unintentional double entendres were perpetrated by adult men, who had to have known what they were doing, and writing, makes me question just how “innocent” these “boners” are.

No other comic book enjoys (if that’s the word) a greater reputation as a sexual eye-raiser than Batman. Panel from the story The Joker’s Comedy of Errors.

Batman pulls boner

The Joker wasn’t the only character who “pulled” boners.

Batman and Robin - What about us

Bruce Wayne and his “ward” Dick Grayson. (Well… what about them?)

Robin spanked

Bruce and Dick at home.

Batsignal

Just catching a few moon-rays. In the nude. Maybe Wertham was on to something after all.

Batman and Robin - Window

The 1960s television incarnation of Batman included often one of these suggestive images.

Batman and Robin - bed

What? Don’t all adoptive father-figures sleep in adjacent twin-beds with their wards?

Batman - Doing his best to sound gay

Batman and Robin Wobbly Knees

Robin squirted

Batman - Robin, what have I done to you

Bat-coupling

Batman - Robin face-sits

That Robin. Always going for the seat of the problem.

Batman - Marriage

Robin fantasizes.

Batman and Robin - punishment

Batman and Robin - Tied for by Santa

Batman and Robin - someone with experience

Batman - Seasons gay

Robin - He doesn't love me anymore

Man, Dick IS good

Batman - Need to know

(Why, as they used to ask in Esquire‘s Dubious Achievement photos, is this man laughing?)

With or without Robin, Batman saw his share of phallocentric adventures.

Batman - Penguin riding roc

Superman - Just you, my love

Batman and Joker - Man and Wife

Batman - Bruce and Alfred

Batman - What Clark did

And then there were the toys…

Superman is no less intriguing in these matters: 

Superman - Destroyed with a vibrator

That has got to be some vibrator!

Superman - Not whipped cream

And then there was that little tease Jimmy Olsen…

Jimmy Olsen - Hiring girls

Jimmy Olsen - On the wild side

Jimmy takes a walk on the wild side: Getting into drag was, for him, clearly not an isolated occurrence.

Superman and Jimmy Olsen - Tie up Jimmy

Jimmy Olsen - Weiner

What is there left to say?

Superman and Batman shake... for a long time

A very long time…

Superman spanked

Superman stiffening up

The power of suggestion. Or, what a little discrete blacking-out can do.

Superman’s younger self was no less ambisexually ambiguous.

Superboy_Vol_1_98

Cruising, Smallville style.

Superboy spanked

Superboy - Blows and queer trances

Those queer blows can really mess with a guy’s mind.

Kid Flash and Superboy

Kid Flash and Superboy enjoy… well, modesty forbids. (And is it just me, or do those vertical lines recall a men’s room stall? Just me, huh?)

Elsewhere in the Marvel and DC universes…

Aquaman - Change clothes with me

Does that line ever work?

Thor - Touch my hammer

The Flash - Censored

Spiderman - What the hell

What the hell?


Meanwhile, in the Archieverse…

Archie - Beating off

Well, that’s a novel approach, I guess.

A little hard to swallow that the Archie people didn’t know what an extended middle finger signified.

Archie - bar of soap

That old line!

Something seemed to be happening

Li'l Archie - Footman

Mr Weatherbee - Mavelous Mouth

Archie - On the receiving end

Regina and Archigail

Archie and Jughead - Dark Place

Archie - Facial from Moose

Archie and Moose - Lots of things we can do

Moose clearly has some ideas about what they can do.


And in other comics…

Gay Comics

How many inappropriate words and images can you cram into one cover, anyway? (And just when did Jughead have a son? And by whom?)

The Hangman and his Boy Buddies

Taylor and Garry together

Hip Knox and his Queer Machine

Peter Porkchops

Peter is a apparently a cannibal as well as a sub.

Mighty Mouse - Beating off cats

After that, the dogs… then the squirrels… then the chipmunks…

I like Dick too

Captain Tootsie and Fisty

Fisty was Captain Tootsie’s particular favorite…

Can you hold it, pal

Boys in the same bed

I don’t know who Toro and Torch are, but that double-bed is a definitive improvement over Batman and
Robin’s silly twins.

Bear and Tom

Ben Bowie and His Mountain Men

Blast it, I'm coming

The heartbreak of premature ejaculation.

Stopping The Gay

Silly hetero! Don’t you know by now that nothing can stop The Gay?

Text copyright 2013 by Scott Ross

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s