Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Outing of Maggie Sawyer, Part II

As we saw Monday, Superman v. 2 #15 provides an overall positive portrait of Maggie Sawyer as an "out lesbian," and gives some good background of how the system worked against her.

It wasn't perfect, but it certainly wasn't bad for 1988, when there were no positive gay characters at all in the DC Universe. Also, the issue goes out of its way to avoid actually using the words "gay" or "lesbian."

But who cares what I think about Maggie Sawyer. The important question is, what does Superman think?

Interestingly, he draws a comparison between Maggie Sawyer and Cat Grant, both of whom are working mothers who lost custody of their kids. Unlike Maggie, however, Cat is portrayed as the "extreme heterosexual" -- always hitting on Clark, and other men in the office.

Cat lost her son Adam because she was an alcoholic; Maggie because she was a lesbian. Superman reasonably sees the former as a more reasonable factor in losing your kid than the latter. While this is a pretty good reaction from Superman, it may actually veer a little too far anti-Cat in its pro-Maggie-ness. Cat is also being watched and judged all the time. She just takes a different approach to dealing with it.

As Superman continues to interior-monologue, he almost thinks the forbidden "L Word."

Yes, Superman. It is ridiculous that she should have to give up her child because she's Hold It. Oh, wait, a Deus ex Machina flies through and distracts Superman just before he can contemplate the concept of "gay."

In a different sort of review of Superman #15, that winged kid would actually be the center-point. A bad guy is turning kids into winged creatures to rob buildings for him, and he was Jaime in his clutches, and will they rescue her before its too late?

Well, you can read the issue for that. This isn't that kind of review, and that's all we are going to see of the wing-kids.

Enough to say that Superman and Maggie Sawyer do what they have to do. And then includes following the Court Order. Even though he doesn't want to.

The issue ends inconclusively, with President James Buchanan agreeing to "think about" letting Jaime visit her mother. I guess that's the best we could hope for, absent a return to Golden Age Superman, who would have held Sawyer out of a high window until he agreed to sign an amended custody agreement. But there appear to be a lot of ranch houses around, so maybe that strategy wouldn't have worked here. And who knows if Golden Age Superman is as enlightened about gay parents as this Superman is.

So that's it. 22 pages of Maggie Sawyer -- bad mom, good cop, good lesbian. Was it an overall good portrayal? Good for the time period? Too wishy-washy? What do you think?


Blogger Alexa D said...

I think it was a decent portrayal for the times, but not quite as good as Marvel's '80s attempt at having-a-gay-character-but-not-calling-it-that, when Cap ran into an old friend of his from the '30s only to find he was living with another man, just because they showed an actual loving relationship, instead of just the persecution (though they do plenty of that, no mistake). DC gets props for taking on the plight of gay parents, though. But Superman is a dick for not being all, "No, dude, you will let your daughter see your wife. Because I'm Superman."

5:07 AM  
Blogger Ragtime said...

Hi Alexa.

I agree with everything you said. Also, I think the best part about Maggie Sawyer, though, is that she remained a character after the "gay storyline" was over, and was in numerous issues that did not revolve around her sexuality at all.

9:09 PM  
Blogger notintheface said...

'But Superman is a dick for not being all, "No, dude, you will let your daughter see your wife. Because I'm Superman."'

Actually, there was a story a few months prior to the Maggie Sawyer issue where Superman tried to argue with Cat Grant's ex for Cat getting more time with her kid, but it went south on him (an alien bad guy attacked him and put Cat's ex in the hospital) and caused him much angst.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny. I read this issue when I was a kid, and I never realized the reason Maggie lost her kid was because she was gay. Actually, I never realized she was gay period. It was probably a combination of the fact that I was a rather clueless kid and the fact that the translation I was reading didn't have the telltale "babe" in that one panel (I think).

Or I blinked once too many times. It's truly a "blink and you miss it" thing. It's rather ridiculous how they taking on the issue without actually mentioning it!

2:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to be honest, i didn't even notice until action 600, when luthor calls one of his bitches into his office and is like "hey bitch, bend over. maggie, isn't she hot?" and maggie is like "...yes..." and then luthor threatens to get her position in the police taken from her because she's a lesbian. i wasn't really surprised she was gay though. i mean, look at that goddamn haircut...

8:02 AM  

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