Superman fans are up in arms at the decision of the publisher to appoint a noted anti-gay writer to pen the Man of Steel’s latest adventures.
Comic giant DC has commissioned Orson Scott Card, author of the award-winning and best-selling Ender’s Game sci-fi series, to write for DC’s Adventures of Superman series. The digital comic is set to be published in April.
The news has sparked a furious backlash from Card’s critics. Card is a long-time critic of homosexuality and has called gay marriage “the end of democracy in America”. In 2009 he became a board member of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that campaigns against same-sex marriage.
“Superman stands for truth, justice and the American way. Orson Scott Card does not stand for any idea of truth, justice or the American way that I can subscribe to,” said Jono Jarrett of Geeks Out, a gay fan group. “It’s a deeply disappointing and frankly weird choice.”
A film of Ender’s Game, co-produced by Card and starring Harrison Ford, is set to be released in November. Jarrett speculated DC was hoping pre-publicity for the movie would drive sales for the comic.
“I feel like they were hoping that no one will notice. It’s a free country, and what’s important is what we do here. This is a man who wants to take away my civil rights, and I will not be giving him my money,” said Jarrett.
Actor Michael Hartney, who describes himself as “as big a Superman fan as you’ll ever meet”, has written to DC voicing his concerns about Card.
“If this was a Holocaust denier or a white supremacist, there would be no question. Hiring that writer would be an embarrassment to your company. Well, Card is an embarrassment to your company, DC,” he wrote in a letter also published on Tumblr.
“And of all the characters Card could have been hired to write, you give him Superman? The character that taught me to lead by example? To do the right thing, even when it was hard? To keep going, even when it seemed hopeless? What an insult. Kids are killing themselves. They are killing themselves in a climate of intolerance and homophobia publicly fostered by people like Orson Scott Card. You don’t have to contribute to this. You shouldn’t. You mustn’t,” he wrote.
Petition website Allout.org has started a petition calling for DC to drop Card. The appointment has even inspired a spoof Superman comic in which the hero’s home planet is being destroyed by gay marriage.
Dale Lazarov, a gay comic writer, defended DC’s appointment: “I’ve known Orson Scott Card is a raging homophobe since the early 90s. I refuse to buy or read his work. But asking that he be denied work because he is a raging homophobe is taking it too far. Asking for workplace discrimination for any reason is counterproductive for those who want to end discrimination on their own behalf.”
DC declined to comment on the controversy.
DC, owned by Warner Bros, has been making attempts to include LGBT characters in its superhero universe recently. Last year the company announced that Alan Scott, Green Lantern, was gay. Batwoman has been a lesbian since 2006.
Last year when North Carolina was voting to ban same sex unions, Card wrote legalising gay marriage was “not about making it possible for gay people to become couples.
“It’s about giving the left the power to force anti-religious values on our children. Once they legalize gay marriage, it will be the bludgeon they use to make sure that it becomes illegal to teach traditional values in the schools.”
This is not the first time that Card, a prominent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has stirred up controversy by taking on an icon.
In 2011 his publisher was swamped with complaints after publishing a version of Hamlet in which the prince’s father is a gay paedophile.
In a damning review trade journal Publishers Weekly said that the focus of Hamlet’s father was “primarily on linking homosexuality with the life-destroying horrors of paedophilia, a focus most fans of possibly bisexual Shakespeare are unlikely to appreciate”.