Grifter & Midnighter #1 and 2

An Imaginary Conversation Between Chuck Dixon and Ryan Benjamin:

Chuck Dixon: Hey, isn’t one of those Wildstorm characters gay?
Ryan Benjamin: Yeah, I think you’re right, there is one!
CD: Hey, I’ve got a ton of homo jokes I haven’t been able to use since everything became all PC.
RB: Tell me about it!
CD: How about this? I can write a book with that gay guy in it, and he can make all the homo jokes he wants! That’ll rock!
RB: Yeah, but are these just going to be asides? Those can get really tired if he’s only gonna be talking to himself.
CD: I know! We’ll get another character! Let’s see…Wildstorm Universe…Gen13, Authority, what else is there?
RB: I don’t know…ya know, Brubaker did a mini with this guy who wore a sock on his head…
CD: That wasn’t a sock, that was a hanky! Okay, yeah, we’ll use hanky-man — he’s straight, right?
RB: I think so.
CD: Good. I’ll get hanky man to be gay guy’s straight man…get it? Straight man? God, I kill myself.
RB: Settle down, Chuck.
CD: Anyways, let’s set gay guy and hanky man up against some sort of shape changing evil.
RB: Oooh! Can they change into a naked chick? I looove drawing naked chicks!
CD: Sure, that’ll give me more ammo for my gay guy to use on hanky man. In fact, how about the shape changer changes into a man, for good measure?
RB: Ewwww. Okay, I can see how that’d be funny, but I’m only drawing the face — then it’s back to naked chick.
CD: Good enough. So what do we know about these characters?
RB: Well, let’s see…the gay one’s kinda like Batman, isn’t he?
CD: Yeah! I can sooo write Batman…I always wanted to write some homo humor into that book, but editorial kept chopping it out. You know, some Bruce on Dick action…

Dixon gets a faraway look in his eyes.

RB: Chuck, you’re really creeping me out here…

Dixon snaps out of his fugue.

CD: Wha? Huh? Anyways, where were we? Oh yeah, hanky man. Isn’t he kinda sorta like the Punisher? Badass.
RB: ‘Cept he wears a hanky on his face instead of a big skull. Truth to tell, Chuck, I can’t really draw capes and other rippling fabrics too well.
CD: That’s okay, we only need it for the beginning. After he and homo man hook up — I kill myself!
RB: Chuck….
CD: Yeah, anyways, after they team up, he can take it off. Get it? Take it off?
RB: Chuck!
CD: Anyways, whaddaya think?
RB: Kewl! But, now this may not be my place, since I’m not the writer here, but don’t we need some sort of plot beyond homo man, hanky man, and naked babe?
CD: Yeah, don’t worry about that. I’ll throw in some weird shit, and figure the rest out as I go along. Don’t worry, I’ve always managed to make it work before.
RB: Great! So, what’ll we call the book?
CD: Well, you know that kickass book Superman/Batman?
RB: Yeah, that rocks!
CD: Anyways, it seems like everybody’s doing it nowadays — Cable & Deadpool, Batman & Robin — we’ll just name it Homo Guy & Straight Man.
RB: Uh, Chuck, I don’t think that’ll sell. Anyways, don’t they have real names?
CD: Chill Ryan, I was just messin’ with you. Let’s see…what’s the gay guy’s name?

Both riffle through some old comics.

RB: Uh, Midnighter?
CD: Kickass! What about hanky man?
RB: Cole something or other.
CD: No, that’s gay. Come on, he must have some kind of superhero name.

Riffling continues…

RB: Oh, I got it right here: Grifter? What kind of lame ass name is that?
CD: Eh, we’ll never use it inside the book itself, we just need to put it on the cover.
RB: Heeey, I know what we’ll do! I’ll create this cooool logo – with a gun, in place of the first ‘r’ in his name.
CD: Why not in place of both of them?
RB: I don’t wanna overdo it.
CD: Fine, great idea, Ryan! So Midnighter & Grifter?
RB: Hmmm….I believe that’ll look unbalanced on the page. And you don’t want to telegraph the fact that we tacked Grifter on as an afterthought.
CD: You’re right Ryan. Grifter & Midnighter?
RB: We have a winner!
CD: So what do you know about their powers or anything?
RB: Um, well, uh, let’s see, these books I’ve found just have them fighting and shooting a lot. And talking.
CD: No, no talking (except for my gay jokes!). That would mean that I’d have to have a plot ahead of time. Eh, don’t worry about it, I’ll make something up.
RB: But what if it doesn’t fit into continuity?
CD: Hah! Who reads these books anyways? And why do you think that DC rebooted Wildstorm in the first place? Nah, we’ll be fine.
RB: Cool, let’s do it!

That’s what reading this title is like. It’s as if its creators have no idea who their characters are, how they’ve been previously portrayed, or what their abilities are — nor do they seem to care.

I’m just using CD and RB as names to separate the voices in my conversation — replace them with two of DC editorial’s higher-ups (and tweak the dialogue) if you so desire. Keep in mind though, that considering this quote from Newsarama’s interview with Dixon:

“I haven’t seen a mainstream comic story yet with a gay character that wasn’t loaded with stereotypes and clichés”

it’s ironic that that’s all that this book seems to be. Even more ironic is the fact that in the same interview, Dixon rails against other writers being in-your-face with their attitude to homosexuality. In his opinion, comics are for kids, and that kind of writing has no place in them. Funny, because line after line in this book proclaims “I’m gay!” “He’s gay!” I can just see some little kid going “Mommy, what does it mean ‘he’s on top’? What’s a ‘lover’? Isn’t Apollo a man?” not to mention, “What happened to that man’s head? Why isn’t that lady wearing any clothes?”

This is NOT a book for children. And, though I am aware that Chuck Dixon feels that this title is being written for Mature Audiences only, this is not indicated anywhere in the book itself. Hell, this isn’t even a book for adults — the writing is just so mind-numbingly atrocious. I haven’t given a rating of ASS (in my blog) in a long time, but this title richly deserves it. (Imagine Chuck Dixon going “yay, me!” here.)

And by the way, I don’t like Superman/Batman as much as Chuck Dixon does (the way I write him).

The full text of Dixon’s Newsarama interview can be read here.

And, for the record, I, myself, have absolutely no problem with homosexuality in comics — as long as it’s done right. See Runaways to understand how to do it. Heinberg did an okay job with it in Young Avengers. So did Gail Simone in Birds of Prey. Hell, even Ultimate X-Men does it better. This book, however, could be a textbook example of how not to write gay.

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