It’s a small revolution in the world of superheroes. In the next issue of DC Comics, the new Superman, son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, comes out. In a kiss with the pink haired journalist Jay Nakamura, Jon will assume his bi identity. He is bisexual. The friendship formed in the episodes in the heart of summer therefore turns into love in the November issue. “He seemed anachronistic to make this new hero, the son, a carbon copy of his father, a heterosexual white male “, explain its creators.
— Superman (@DCSuperman) October 11, 2021
This sexual orientation is just one of the many differences between Superman father and son. Jay, Jon’s lover, also has superpowers. According to DC Comics, he’s arguably the only person on earth Superman won’t need to protect or save. It is therefore a relationship on an equal footing. Moreover, the kiss between Superman and Jay is the climax of a sequence where our superhero in blue jumpsuit, red boots and cape appears discouraged by the magnitude of the task. Saving the world seems insurmountable to him and Jay comes to comfort him.
With this new Superman, it is no longer just a question of fighting against simple villains or against villains with superpowers, but of carrying out current battles. Jon must put out forest fires caused by climate change, prevent a school massacre or defend refugees threatened with deportation. That said, Superman has always been in step with the times. In the first issues of the 1930s, he faced the Nazis and destroyed the Atlantic Wall. Superman represents America and its struggles. You could even say that the superhero is the embodiment of the American dream. Refugee on earth, the only survivor of Krypton from where his father sends him to save him from the destruction of the planet, the young orphan grew up in the American countryside, taken in by a couple of Kansas farmers who named him Clark. As an adult, he goes up to the city, Metropolis, where he succeeds.
We could add that the quest for identity is intrinsic to Superman since he grew up in exile. His bisexuality, as spectacular as it may seem, is not a thunderbolt either. As noted in New York Times, the universe of superheroes is already crossed by these developments. Batman’s sidekick, Robin, is thus attracted to a man. There is also the superhero Aquaman, a black and gay character. The comic book industry had long self-censored since the publication of a book by psychiatrist, Fredric Wertham, in the 1950s. Seduction of the Innocent (The Seduction of the Innocents), he suggested a link between reading comics and juvenile delinquency. We are no longer there.
The evolution of superheroes has been gradual but continuous. Specialists will remember, for example, that in 1992, Northstar, the hero of Marvel, had already come out. But this time we’re talking about Superman, the most American, well-known and best-selling superhero of all time. Obviously, his coming out strikes the spirits. It remains to be seen whether it will influence sales as well.