Gay Advances Made Hulk Smash!
Comic books have come a long way since they first exploded on the scene in 1934. Though various series have or continue to deal with serious social issues, like gay rights, rape or racism, the media as a whole hasn’t always been so kind.
If you need any proof, check out a 1980 edition of Rampaging Hulk, in which the hero’s alter ego, bookish Bruce Banner, confronts some sex-crazed gay thugs.
The website Comics with Problems achieved new prominence last month, when the likes of Rachel Maddow referenced the site’s reproduction of military’s “funny book” about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Powerless against politically incorrect media, I took a stroll through the site’s collection and found something decidedly queer. Or, rather, anti-queer.
An issue Rampaging Hulk! featured Banner coming back from a hot, sweaty work out, was accosted by some man-hungry, YMCA-dwelling gays who, naturally, were out for one thing: sex.
“You’re so soft! And all pearly white — and you’ve got the cutest little cheeks,” exclaims one of the would-be rapists, while egging on his companion, who’s obviously eager for a piece of Banner’s body.
The admittedly revolted Banner escapes with his life and butt intact by confessing his skull-smashing Hulk powers, and running into a basement, where, enraged and frightened by the queer close call, he turns into the raging hero whom we’ve come to know and love.
Marvel would no doubt like to toss this villainous edition into the past. Thanks to the internet, however, this perpetuation of “gay male as predator” lives on, and should serve as an instructional tool with how low — or high — comics, a typically disregarded media, can go in elevating or oppressing social groups.
Comic books have long been understated influence in the culture wars. Though it was once acceptable to spread homophobia and stereotypes, publishers like DC and Marvel are beginning to change their tune. For example, one of Marvel’s X-Men-related series, X-Factor, just launched a storyline in which two gay characters are discussing an open relationship.
It’s a far cry from Banner’s YMCA encounter, and one that should become a trend for comic publishers around the world to spread the message of universal equality, an far more heroic act than anything the Hulk, the X-Men or even Superman could ever accomplish.