Who’s “Q” in the DC Universe? (Part 1)
Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory Of The DC Universe (March, 1985 – December, 1985)
Script: Len Wein
DC Comics, 1985
by Ed Natcher
In 1985, DC Comics began the publication of a monthly series, Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe. The grand objective of the title was to describe, in alphabetical order, all the people, places and things in the DC line. Unfortunately, the project was running concurrently with the Crisis on Infinite Earths series, which meant that many of the characters listed were in the process of being revamped or even killed. (Or, in the case of some, causing fans to wish that the character had been killed, since he or she came out of the process completely screwed up. Hawkman, anyone?) Still, Who’s Who did “freeze in time” what, for me, will always be the “real” DC Universe, before John Byrne got his hands on it and the idea of “rebooting” it every few years to scrape up a few more dollars became the normal operating procedure. In effect a DC Encyclopedia, the issues pretty much achieved what they were meant to do. The only real disappointment from my standpoint was that there’s very little gay content. Oh sure, issue 10 (December, 1985) does contain a letter from a fellow named Phil Jimenez in Cypress, CA, but who knew anything about him way back then?
To correct this glaring lack in an otherwise excellent work, I have managed, after considerable research, to come up with the “real” entry for one character for each letter of the alphabet. Naturally, these couldn’t be published in the less enlightened 1980s. I’m sure that, were DC to do this project today, they’d… Well, anyway, here, for the first time on any internet site is:
WHO’S “Q”: THE PARTIALLY COMPLETE MID-1980s CATALOG OF THE QUEER DC CONTINUUM (PART 1: A-H)
Art by Joe Orlando
The caretaker of The House of Secrets, Abel is a “confirmed bachelor”, spending his days spinning tales amongst the antiques and knickknacks of his gloomy home. His longtime companion, Caine, lives across the way in his own curio filled domicile, The House of Mystery. Some say that the two are brothers, others that “sisters” would be a more apt description, given the bitchy way in which they interact. The pair sometime socialize with the hags from The Witching Hour, swapping the latest juicy gossip about the other denizens of DC. Abel’s own secret is really no mystery.
Art by Dave Gibbons
(Unfortunately, I am unable to present the “Who’s Q” entry on The Batman, since this would violate Edict 269 of the recent Fourth Prism Comics Party Congress. The rule states, in part: “No Queer Eye Reviewer shall make or cause to made any joke, pun, cartoon, or innuendo regarding the homosexuality of Batman. Such attempts at humor are overdone, tired, too obvious, and just work our last gay nerve.” Of course, they didn’t say anything about Robin…)
Art by Keith Giffen and Karl Kesel
Ulu Vakk possesses the fabulous power to instantly change the color of anything. Following a hugely successful career in the hair salons on his home planet of Lupra, he came to Earth, intent on joining The Legion of Super-Heroes and fulfilling his dream of redecorating the clubhouse and giving each member a complete makeover. Rejected by The Legion, who feared his daring designs would make them the object of ridicule, Color Kid joined the more cutting edge Legion of Substitute-Heroes, who were used to being laughed at.
Art by Murphy Anderson
Darrel Dane was obsessed with size. This led him to engage in a series of experiments designed to produce his modest goal: Six inches. When it turned out that his serum actually resized his entire body to that length, Darrel decided to make the best of it by joining the fight for justice. After choosing a name sure to strike terror in the hearts of evildoers everywhere, he designed a form fitting blue and red ensemble, which left his manly arms and legs completely exposed for all to see. Despite the daily shaving regimen that this required, Doll Man went on to be the cutest li’l crime fighter in town. He still hasn’t gotten over that size thing.
Art by Colleen Doran and Karl Kesel
The planet Trom was a dull, dreary place, its surface consisting almost entirely of grayish carbon compounds. Thus, over the millennia, the Trommites evolved the power of transmutation, which allowed them to create gold, silver, platinum, the best sequins in the universe, and other really neat shiny stuff to die for. Which they did. Jan Arrah, the last survivor of the world, came to Earth, where he joined The Legion of Super-Heroes under the name “Mystery Lad”. Only Saturn Girl knew the true nature of his fantastic power. A greater mystery was why he didn’t show the slightest interest in any of the shapely, tightly garbed females on the team. Jan said that, for the time being, he wasn’t interested in them “that way”, but just wanted to be friends until he settled into his new home and found out where all the best bars were. Eventually revealing his power to the world, he took the name Element Lad and soon had all the Legion guys wearing “precious” metal rings in their earlobes and nipples. His “best friend” is Shvaughn Erin of the Science Police who, for some reason, has a tendency to walk into the wrong restroom.
Art by Murphy Anderson
As proud of his well-developed chest as Doll Man is of his muscular arms and legs, Rod Reilly naturally wanted to share it with the world. Thus, he adopted the masked identity of Firebrand, allowing him to wear a pink see-through blouse that showed off his prodigious pecs to good effect. Assisted by his “man Friday” Slugger Dunn, Rod embarked on a career of carefree crime busting far removed from the daily routine of your typical comic book playboy. (Unless you count Wesley Dodds, Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen, etc.) As his name indicates, Rod has never had the “size” concerns that plague Darrel Dane. In fact, he is widely known around town as “Ram Rod”, “Roddy McOw”, and “Oh My God, Rod!”. Oddly, to this day, it remains unknown if Slugger is the “pitcher” or the “catcher” in their relationship.
GUNNER AND SARGE
Art by William Wray
A prime example of the close comradeship sometimes forged in the crucible of war, this inseparable pair of Marines fought throughout both theaters of World War II. The older, more experienced Sarge took the young, inexperienced, but eager to learn Gunner firmly in hand, leading him to peaks of excitement unknown in the DC Universe. (Except to Sandman and Sandy, Whatsisname and Robin, Green Arrow and Speedy, The Fox and the Crow, etc.) Like many committed male couples, the two leathernecks had a faithful pet, the dog Pooch, who was like a child to them. In a time in which even “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would have been an improvement, Gunner and Sarge were eventually relegated to a task force disparagingly codenamed The Losers, along with other military “misfits”. Ironically, their “open” relationship led them to coin the now world famous slogan “We’re looking for a few good men.”
HAWK AND DOVE
Art by Denys Cowan and Dick Giordano
Brothers Hank and Don Hall were complete opposites in everything. Hank was aggressive and dominant, always having to come out on top. Don was passive and submissive, always open to new, larger possibilities. When a mysterious voice informed them that they had been chosen to be powerful tools for good, they at first thought that it was a porno producer offering them a contract. Surprised to find that they had instead been granted great strength and agility, the siblings set out to take on the bad boys of the world, each in his own way. Now firmly established as effective peckers for justice, in their spare time they do porn.
And so, Part 1 of my alphabetical sampling of some of the queer characters of 80s DC draws to a close. Coming soon: Part 2 (I-Q), wherein more heroes, villains, and hangers on will come out for your edification. Was Obsidian one of DC’s “black sheep” twenty years ago? Was The Pied Piper blowing for “our team”? Was The Joker “funny that way”? Well, Duh! The answer to all three is, of course, “Yes!” But, they didn’t make the cut. Join me next time to find out who did, as I continue my cruise down memory lane. Until then, mind your Ps and “Qs”.
In his younger days, Ed Natcher was frequently mistaken for Merry Man of The Inferior Five. Afraid that DC would sue him for impersonating a copyrighted character, Ed grew a beard and gained some weight, whereupon he was frequently mistaken for Funky Flashman.
Article copyright of Ed Natcher. Images and characters copyright of DC Comics, Inc.
Prism Comics promotes the works of the LGBT community in comics. It does not implicitly endorse any other material or products associated with those works. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s).