In case you missed this past week’s episode of The Hour Cosmic (Episode 76: Some Dubious Comic Conversations), we spent a good deal of time talking about the new, female Thor. That got us thinking – what characters would you like to see gender swapped? Now, a few notes: we are not talking about anything other than good stories here. We don’t want to see more male or female swaps for no reason – and as you’ll see, we argue for different reasons for them as well. Join us in sharing your favorite hypothetical characters in the comments, and if you missed the show, listen below!
Walt’s Pick: Jon and Suzie from “Sex Criminals”
I apologize in advance.
“Gender swapping” can carry a sort of… connotation on the internet. Trust me, I’ve seen some things that I wish I hadn’t in my day. Perhaps because of this, and other general issues the trope presents, when we see a legitimate “swap,” it’s usually in, say, a children’s cartoon, where any underlying questions can safely be ignored. When it is used in more adult-oriented media, particularly the comics sphere, it usually refers to what we have here with the new Thor: a new character inheriting the mantle of a previous character who was a different gender. But why does it have to? In the realm of fiction, we can use tropes such as this to explore all sorts of questions — and in Jon and Suzie of “Sex Criminals,” we have our perfect choice for explorers.
When legitimate gender swapping occurs in media, it’s often played for laughs. When it’s commissioned for comics on the internet… well, it’s used for other things. But were the leads of “Sex Criminals” to undergo a twisted take on the Saturday Morning Cartoon trope, I believe that Fraction and Zdarsky would be able to have an outcome that is in some ways both, and some ways neither. Funny, but only in the fact that it would lead to new jokes: I doubt Fraction, of all people, would make the gender swap the joke, as such an approach, if poorly handled, could be insensitive to people with, for example, gender dysphoria. Sexual, but not pornographic: while such a change would undoubtedly lead to interesting times in the bedroom for Jon and Suzie, “Sex Criminals” has never been designed to titillate. Rather, I could imagine the swap being utilized in the usual “Sex Criminals” way, hiding sexual maturity under faux “immature” humor to address legitimate and interesting questions about what makes certain areas of our bodies tick.
As to why it would happen? Hell, why not? They can stop time by orgasming — I’m sure we can fit one more magical sex thing in.
…poor phrasing on that, I suppose.
Chad’s Pick: Cloak and Dagger
The way I see it, if you’re going to gender-swap a character, you have to follow several rules.
– The change has to make sense in the context of the character’s history
– The character’s name/title/codename has to work
– It needs to feel like a natural progression of the story directly preceding it
– And the gender swap can’t dominate the story.
For example, changing Spider-Man to Spider-Man-Woman wouldn’t make a lot of sense, and as fun as it might sound, you’d be hard pressed to buy-in 100% as it’s so blatantly a gimmick. But in Thor’s case, there’s a) a built in explanation as to how a woman could become Thor, as anyone worthy of the power can access that power through the hammer, and b) there’s precedent — it’s happened multiple times before. And even after Thor’s inevitable return to the forefront of his back, I guarantee it’ll happen again some day. It’s ingrained into the very nature of those comics now. Read Thor long enough, and it’s going to happen. Don’t believe me? Ask Beta Ray Bill, Eric Masterson, and Dargo Ktor.Continued below
All that to say, I’d love to see an all-new, gender-swapped Cloak and Dagger! Cloak’s a lady. Dagger’s a dude. Hell, that’s your tagline right there. All the rules work: Neither’s name is distinctly male or female. There’s no great, cosmic reason either has to be one gender or another. Kids gaining weird powers (yeah, I know their technically mutants) under bad circumstances isn’t limited to one gender, so the premise still works. And finally, Cloak and Dagger aren’t doing anything right now, so the there’s really no direct lead-in that works against the notion of a new duo showing up and using the names.
I’d probably switch up the color scheme a bit. Put Dagger in dark colors, and drop Cloak in the lighter costume, and I’d do that mostly just to freak the internet out.
But back to my rules, you couldn’t do the same trick with Mr. Miracle and Big Barda, and it’d be hard to sell people on gender-swapping Green Arrow and Black Canary. Fans’ ideas about both couples’ are so deeply rooted in their romantic dynamic, working around those things with either new characters or changing the gender of the actual characters would devour the narrative. But with Cloak and Dagger, the dynamic’s unique enough going in, switching up the sexes wouldn’t really detract from the story you’re trying to tell. They’d be characters first, and the stunt-ish-ness of it would be secondary.
Brian’s Pick: Wonder Woman
No, I don’t want this guy. I want Male Wonder Woman. Why? Because Male Wonder Woman would be the most popular character ever.
Wonder Woman is one of DC’s trinity – their three most important and revered characters. But, it isn’t really a trinity – it is a duo with a lackey. Wonder Woman has never been treated as anything close to an equal to Batman and Superman, despite her having a more unique origin, a more compelling skill set, and an entire world in which to set stories that the other two would never touch.
In addition, Male Wonder Woman would make everyone realize how clownish that costume is, and not give creators shit for trying to make him look less like an exotic dancer.
Male Wonder Woman would finally get a nicely developed rogue’s gallery and some supporting characters that weren’t trying to fuck him. Male Wonder Woman would get a secret identity that didn’t need to be rebooted constantly, and would have a home base – a Batcave or Fortress of Solitude – that kids could buy a playset of and stage epic battles in.
Plus, then you could have a supervillain named Cheeto.
This week, we welcome past guest and good pal Ryan Browne back to the show! He will be launching the new ongoing series of “God Hates Astronauts” this fall at Image. Make sure to follow @TheHourCosmic on Twitter and retweet this tweet for a chance for Ryan to play on your behalf and win you a sweet prize!
Thanks for checking us out, and check back Monday for our episode with Ryan Browne – have a great weekend!