With June being LGBTQ Pride Month, I'm reminded how Marvel missed an opportunity for their answer to DC’s emerald champion: a superhero by the name of Freedom Ring.
Freedom Ring first appeared in Robert Kirkman’s Master of the Ring 5-part story arc in Marvel Team Up back in 2006.
Intelligent, handsome, kind, and a well-rounded college student, Freedom Ring’s alter ego was Curtis Doyle. Having gained a bit of the Cosmic Cube in the form of a ring, Doyle essentially became the Marvel equivalent of Kyle Rayner.
If ever there was a character with more than enough potential to carry his own series, it was Doyle. He was a fresh character who had leading star potential. Marvel could’ve attained the mainstream attention that Archie is enjoying right now with Kevin Keller. But more than that, Marvel would’ve reached an untapped marginalized audience with disposable income who would’ve been all too happy to support a title like Freedom Ring.
So what does Marvel do? They snatch the fail out of the jaws of win, not only by killing off Doyle but doing it by mutilating him and sodomizing him as well with a barrage of spike tendrils.
Freedom Ring's demise occurred exactly one month to the day after Doyle was being promoted as Marvel’s new gay superhero by Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada in interviews, as part of a brand new day of diversity at the House of Ideas.
The story in which Freedom Ring was murdered had already been written and drawn when Quesada made the rounds in the media promo circuit.
As Ty Templeton stated, "It’s hard to believe they weren’t aware of the F*CK YOU involved when they quickly impale Freedom Ring dead, in one of the worst bait-and-switch messages since Bill Jemas’ MARVILLE was described as “readable”. Author Kirkman now claims he “didn’t mean it” to be so bluntly homophobic, it just sort of turned out that way… "
Marvel killing off Freedom Ring, this awesome new character who happened to be gay and could’ve easily carried his own series, made me livid. Not only did they kill him but they mutilated and sodomized him as well. They wouldn’t have dared done that with a heterosexual white superhero. This never would've happened to Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, or Spider-Man.
What I also find suspicious is that of all the resurrections that continue to transpire in comics, Freedom Ring has remained dead. Yet they revived Northstar: the avatar of straight privilege and the queer minstrel show as well as give Rawhide Kid one of the most homophobic series ever conceived.
So why is proper representation in the media important?
Whether we want to admit it or not, there is power in perception. When we diminish a group of people and relegate them to small or non-existent roles or portray them as caricatures or 3/5 subhumans, this seeps into our consciousness and this affects how we treat our neighbor. It affects our judgment when it comes to passing oppressive laws against marginalized people. We deny our neighbors human dignity and the rights that go with it. This obviously leads to fear, discrimination and many of the problems we have now. By showcasing our stories, we debunk those misconceptions and show that while we may have our cultural differences, we're all human, we're all relatable more than we realize (we are human like that), and we're all exceptional or not based, on the content of our character and not the color of our skin, gender, orientation, etc.
The truth is we desperately need more Bobby Drakes, Kevin Kellers, Midnighters, Jack Harknesses, Wallace Wells, Gears, Achilles, Dakens (a heroic one would be nice), Hulklings, and Wiccans in comics. Queer boys need to see that they can be superheroes who are just as strong, masculine and ass-kicking as their cis heterosexual peers. But just as important, cis straight males need to see that their queer brothers can be just as strong, masculine and ass-kicking as they are.
Such a missed opportunity. It would’ve been nice to have a live-action film of Curtis Doyle in theaters. It’ll be nice when one day we can truly let Freedom Ring.