LGBTQ: Love is Love Anthology (English)

April 3rd, 2017

On June 12, 2016, in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida a self-loathing, broken man decided that the best way to handle his problems was to take it out on innocent strangers. He hated his ethnicity and his sexuality, so he chose a gay nightclub that served as a refuge for LGBTQ people of color. Instead of taking his own life, he took 49 other people’s. For no goddamn good reason. And, it being America, it was easy for him to get the weapons and ammunition he needed, because we wouldn’t want to regulate that even as much as we regulate driving a car.  

So one more asshole guy got to destroy lives and we got to mourn…again.

 IDW and DC Comics teamed up to create a tribute comic anthology and so Love Is Love was born to raise money for survivors and victims’ families.The 1st print edition sold out quickly, which is testament to the desire to do good so many people have. I picked up a copy of the Digital Edition.

The anthology is beautifully done, with a lot of different perspectives…many of them exceptionally beautifully rendered. 

And it made me so angry I could barely get through it.

Batman was not going to help those kids. Neither was Superman or Wonder Woman. Every time a DC character made an appearance, I wanted to scream. Particularly during a story by Dan fucking Didio, the woman-hating fragile white dude  who had to be pulled from DC panels some years ago because he was so rude to fans, especially to women. What does that say about the horrible wasteful loss of life? What lesson did he learn imagining Batman in rainbow colors, lecturing us on loss? Fuck that so very much.

/Deep breath./

Legitimately, every use of DC characters fell flat as a board for me. Even the exceptionally pretty Batwoman with Gay Pride Flag by Rafael Albuquerque.

It was just all so “Nope.”

That said, there were a lot of genuinely touching stories. The ones that worked, dropped the facade if the superhero tie-in and talked about how heroic it is to be gay and joyful in a world with fragile cowardly assholes with guns.  I particularly like the one-pager by Teddy Tennebaum, Mike Huudleston and Corey Breen that called the bravery it takes – still – to love freely and openly “super-love.”

I was very glad to see openly gay artists like Ed Luce and Paige Braddock included.  I also very much appreciated those well-known straight artists who took the time to portray LGBTQ people, People of color, gay kids and trans kids, at The Pulse itself, rather than stupid Batman. 

Ratings:

Overall – I don’t know what to say. Probably it’s an 8, but it made me so angry I can’t even.

I’m pretty sure I’m not sorry I got this collection and maybe one day I’ll be able to read it without white-hot searing rage.

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4 Responses

  1. Mariko says:

    I am curious if you would share a bit more about your reaction. I have been thinking about it since I saw the post earlier this afternoon and it’s so different from… I can’t say what I “expected,” because I didn’t actually have expectations, but… would have guessed, maybe?

    Was it just a few of the pages that were problematic? Were you angry that the book was made and released at all (like, did you feel it was in poor taste)? Or was it more at the horror of the event that necessitated it?

    I have the physical version of the book. I am not an American comics fan, but I bought it because I thought in several ways it was a good idea and a good cause. I read it assuming it would be mostly one-off vignettes with the stable of famous heroes that the creators were given access to. But I was surprised to find something quite different. The vast majority of the participants did not use the superheroes. I was most struck and impressed by the huge variety of the reactions – some were touching, others funny, some angry, confused, cute, resilient, proud, grieving, hopeful. So many different approaches – single panels of wordless art, poems, personal stories, every perspective you could think of.

    I completely agree that the superhero ones were the among weakest, but I think there were a couple of reasons for that. One, there’s no way they could stand up to the raw emotion and soul-baring of many of the other pieces. And two, we like heroes because they can represent our ideals on a grander scale. They can face the impossible odds with a set jaw and determined eyes and come out on top. And there is a time and place for that aspirationalism. But having read this book, it’s plain that the juxtaposition with a real-life tragedy like this serves as a start reminder that there are no magic men and women coming to our rescue. We must do it ourselves, on a human scale, with only our fragile, short human lives as fuel.

    So those stories didn’t enrage me so much as leave something to be desired. But I don’t think it’s entirely useless to have our imaginary heroes stand with us in tragic times. There is power to our imaginations too, especially power to influence younger generations, reassure kids who need it, keep entertainment and culture on the front lines of the fight for equality. Maybe this book was just not the right place for it. Overall, though, I thought the book was successful and touching, and was surprised at how many of these comics artists did not use their creations as a mouthpiece but went for something much more raw and personal.

  2. I thought I was pretty clear. The insertion of superheroes failed completely to work. Batman is a self-loathing rich white man vigilante – exactly the *wrong* person to be lecturing the poor, PoC, LGBTQ community about loss. The tone-deafness of the choice of him and Superman and Wonder Woman as icons for this book failed. And, in Didio’s case, he is exactly the kind of fragile white nerd, angry at women for not seeing past his anger to the mythological “nice guy” beneath the misogyny, picks up a gun and shoots people to make his point.

    Every time Batman showed, had I had a print copy, I would have ripped the pages right out until all that was left were a few stories about the actual people involved. Which were, as you and I agree, quite good.

    • Mariko says:

      Thanks for sharing. It was clear, I just wasn’t sure if the superheroes were the only part that didn’t work for you or it was bigger than that.

      When you break Batman down like that to his basic structure it sure seems, as you say, “tone deaf.” I think that the whole may be more than the sum here, though, for a couple of reasons. One is that, as I mentioned before, people, especially kids, identify with superheroes for a lot of reasons. (My wife, for example, lost her mother at an early age, right around the time of the original Dark Knight iteration of Batman, and found some kind of solace in his story of parental loss). They can stand in for ideas, groups, movements, in a concrete way (say, Captain America in the WWII years). Again, maybe this book wasn’t the right place for it, but as devotees of the power of fiction to reflect our emotions and the world we want to see, I feel like the heroes could help forge that connection to some subset of reachable minds.

      Second, I think it’s a powerful statement, on a meta level, for the DC to allow their A-list characters, their franchise cash-cows, to come out unambiguously against discrimination and in support of LGBT people. Wouldn’t it be worse if they had offered their publishing resources and artists but said no to their characters out of fear of losing some dollars? I think there’s still some larger merit even if the stories fall flat.

      All that said, using an established character is a convenient shorthand for the creator, but it also definitely adds a layer of remove and I think would require a fuller narrative to have the intended impact, not just a page or two.

      I definitely do not share the current cultural obsession with superheroes, especially in the way they and the desire for blockbuster franchises overwhelm the creative industry. And I wholly agree the superhero vignettes were weak here. I just think the intention behind their inclusion was good.

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