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6 Hilariously Failed Attempts at Making Comics More Diverse

#3. Connor Hawke, the Mixed Race (and Possibly Gay) Green Arrow

Since the 1970s, the DC Comics superhero Green Arrow has had sex with pretty much every female he's been able to impress with arrow-based innuendo. So it wasn't much of a surprise when, in the early '90s, he discovered that he had a biracial son. He was named Connor Hawke, and he was meant to replace his father as Green Arrow to once again try to breathe new life into the character by adding some diversity. The problem was, they couldn't seem to agree on exactly what Connor's parentage was, so they decided to make him a golden-haired blackasian.


With dashes of Chippewa-Aztec.

According to the storyline, Connor's mother was half-black and half-Korean, and his dad was the Caucasian sperm cannon known as Green Arrow. However, most of the time he just looks like a photo negative of Aquaman:


Might want to get that jaundice looked at.

So, Connor was as diverse as they could possibly make him, right? Not quite. He was also gay (but not totally gay):

Despite being the son of a traveling penis salesman, Connor has no idea how to be around women and becomes uncomfortable when he has to deal with them. Rather than using it to explore the character, the sexual confusion is typically thrown away on hilarious misunderstandings and George McFly-esque awkwardness:


"Ma'am, I don't know what this is all about, but please put your clothes back on and stop fondling my junk."

So, the half-white, half-black/Korean and partially gay Green Arrow, intended to be a firm statement against the "socially acceptable" image of comic book superheroes, came off as a confused jumble, sort of like if several different Diversity Day parade floats broke down and everybody decided to just share one. What's worse is that they don't even stick to their own plan and abandon Connor's confused sexuality once his father reappears so he can develop a relationship with an HIV-positive teenage girl, because we all know that the missing ingredient of a struggling comic book is AIDS (more on that later).


"The perfect hetero cover! A girl I have a legitimate reason not to bang!"

#2. Dr. Fate, the Transgender Oedipal Pedophile

Dr. Fate, the resident sorcerer in the original Justice Society, was killed off in the 1980s and replaced with Eric and Linda Strauss, who merged together (sort of like Bones and Spock in Star Trek III) to become the new Dr. Fate. This gave DC Comics a wonderful opportunity to explore what happens when a male and a female psyche inhabit the same body. What they did instead was make Dr. Fate the creepiest superhero in the history of comics.


Also he liked to over-share.

You see, Linda Strauss is a woman in her 30s, and Eric is her 10-year-old stepson. When they encounter Nabu (the god who transforms them into Dr. Fate), Eric is changed into a grown man, and he and Linda immediately have sex. This is bad enough, but subsequent issues make it disturbingly clear that Linda was attracted to Eric even before all of that Dr. Fate nonsense.


"The soulful way he sat and watched Power Rangers sent shivers down my spine."

Eric was fully possessed by the Oedipus complex, because apparently incest sells a lot of comic books.


Wait, should we even have this on our hard drive?

None of this is even addressing the horror show that unfolds when they actually fight crime as Dr. Fate. Rather than displaying some sort of mental struggle with gender confusion, Dr. Fate physically alternates between being male and female, like Tyler Perry without the inexplicable popularity.


Complete with gender-appropriate powers: nagging as a woman, fireballs as a man.

Sometimes Dr. Fate would be depicted as a man flexing abdominal muscles in the middle of an explosion, and sometimes she would be a woman with boobs that everyone stared at.


"The breasts wouldn't draw so much attention if you made an effort to hide your erection."

Every aspect of this version of Dr. Fate seemed like DC Comics was trying to sexually assault us with word balloons.

#1. Extrano, the Openly Gay Sorcerer With HIV

In 1988, DC Comics introduced a superhero team called the New Guardians. The eight members were of different nationalities and were meant to represent the whole of the human race. Extrano (whose name translates as "Strange One," incidentally) was a gay Peruvian man who was given the power of magic. He was probably the first openly gay superhero, but unfortunately is more noteworthy for being one of the worst comic book stereotypes of all time.


The poor blue guy was just looking for his Marine Corps reunion.

He dresses like a mix between Nathan Lane in The Birdcage and a sofa, and refers to himself as a witch while constantly reminding people how "strange" he is:


And now you know what it's like to have Zooey Deschanel hit on you.

Extrano also took great pains to assert himself as teammate Harbinger's "gay best friend," using his magic powers to appear on her balcony and tell her that men are jerks. By the way, he does this by referring to his homosexuality at least once per sentence, including calling himself her "auntie" and assuring her that the two of them would not be having sex anytime soon.


"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn about your vagina."

Extrano and the New Guardians soon face off against a psychic Nazi vampire, because this is a comic book and that is how they address social issues:

Extrano and the vampire get into a bitch-slapping contest, in which the vampire tries to claw his eyes out:


"Open palm, man, open palm!"

Extrano is able to defeat the monster, but it dies in captivity. Of AIDS. Which the entire team might now be infected with:


Fact-checking was a pain in the ass before the Internet.

Every member that came into direct contact with the Nazi AIDS vampire has to get tested for HIV. Except for Extrano, because he already has HIV.


"Posers, I was getting HIV before it was cool."

Yes, Extrano, unfairly burdened with virtually every stereotype of gay men that has ever existed, was additionally revealed to be HIV-positive, which sadly was still widely referred to as "the gay disease" even by this point in the 1980s.

In the writers' defense, their hands were largely tied by censorship, and they weren't allowed to explicitly identify any character as homosexual. But by trying to have Extrano's sexuality be implicit, they unfortunately drew upon every homophobic punchline of the past century and implemented them with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer made of hand grenades. And then they gave him HIV.

The adventures of Extrano and the New Guardians lasted only 12 issues before the series was cancelled. He and the entire team were later crushed into anti-energy by a galactic supervillain, because DC Comics would like us all to forget that he ever existed.



For more bad moves in comics, check out The 6 Creepiest Comic Book Characters of All Time and The 4 Most Homophobic Comics Ever Created.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Crazy Sociology Experiment Buried in a Russian Game Show.

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