There's nothing wrong with heroes that appeal to a broader youth audience. But a lesbian superhero? There are two ways this Batwoman idea rankles. First, that DC Comics is earnestly trying to indoctrinate today's young people and delight the homosexual lobby. After all, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation loves this new character, and has previously awarded DC Comics seven awards for "Outstanding Comic Book" for pro-gay themes.
Second, and perhaps more commercially plausible, DC Comics knows that about 90 percent of its audience are young men, who are likely to find a 5-foot-10 lipstick lesbian in a tight latex suit worth a voyeuristic peek at the other side of the tracks. Some of today's comics-obsessed men find an online thrill in "hentai," or cartoon-character pornography based on the Japanese manga comic strips, and there are certainly lesbians in that genre.
Sexual themes and graphic violence are much more common than when most parents grew up reading books pre-screened by the Comics Code Authority, which added some restraint on "artistic license" on behalf of parents. But almost no one submits comic books to the CCA for approval any more.
Gay activists and journalists are now trying to push the idea of an intersection between homosexuals and superheroes in tights. The new cover story in the gay The Advocate magazine asks "How Gay Is Superman?" and salutes what it sees as summer movies flaunting "a bold queer spirit." In addition to digging deeply for hidden metaphors in the forthcoming "Superman Returns," gay activists are finding parallels in the new "X-Men" movie -- that someone wants to cure the freakish mutant heroes, just like conservatives want to convert the homosexuals. As a gay activist, cast member Ian McKellen was very quick to emphasize this "cure" was the villain of the movie, as offensive as trying to change someone's "inferior" race.
Children as young as age 6 or 7 are still reading these comic books, and I suspect most parents haven't a clue about the new messages emerging. Who would have predicted, 10 years ago, that the comics would become a red-light neighborhood where sexually perverted superheroes would be packaged to elicit from children fascination and sympathy?