"Superman is a hero for all of us," says Richard Neal, co-owner of Zeus Comics. "He's not just a hero for some people."
Neal is responding to a divisive decision brought about by industry giant DC Comics. It recently announced that comic fans will get the Man of Steel storylines they've been hoping for, ones that aren't defined by the rules and structure described in the currently streamlined new 52 line. The project is called "The Adventures of Superman" Digital-First, and each installment will be authored by a different popular writer. As the name implies, issues will run online initially then be released in print, through local retailers.
Here's where things get sticky. Despite the highly collectible nature of issue one, which Neal believes will be a two-parter, it will not be for sale here, in Neal's Dallas comic book den. And that's because it's being written by science fiction legend, and anti-gay activist, Orson Scott Card.
Best known as the author of Ender's Game, which is currently being turned into a movie, Card is a blockbuster name. By signing him to create the opening issues of this new take on Superman, DC has given Card a blank canvas; he's allowed to set the initial tone for our hero. And that, says Neal, is exactly the problem.
In early 2000, Salon's Donna Minkowitz sat down to interview Card. What transpired over their two hour chat gave the public a first look into Card's true ideals. The Mormon author said biting words about the gay community. This was just the beginning; he's now known for this kind of proselytizing through both interviews and character structures. When he isn't writing, He sits on the National Organization of Marriage's board, in effort to actively block gay marriage.
Zeus Comics is a gay owned and operated business, and Neal doesn't care if Card writes the greatest Superman story ever told, it will never sit on his shelves. He's not alone on the conflict, a petition has been circulating to stop Card's work on the project, and it's received more than 7,000 signatures in the last few days.
"Orson Scott Card has advocated our destruction multiple times - on marriage equality, relating origins to rape, abuse and pedophilia. Why would I carry someone's comic book who has that opinion about me? And what's to make us think that he's not going to extend that to Superman? Where's that line going to draw regarding homosexuality - that we're all tragic characters, and we're all doomed? That's not what I want to read, or what I want kids to read, especially not from Superman."
Neal and the rest of the team at Zeus will continue reaching out to other retailers, tweeting at DC Comics and making their voices heard on the matter until the issue is either released or reassigned. But if it does come out in April with Card as the author, you'd better read it online, because Dallas' most popular retailer will not be carrying it.
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