Did Infinity, Inc. Almost Have the First Openly Gay Superhero?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and eighty-fifth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

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Infinity, Inc. almost had the first openly gay superhero on the team.


True, although stretching it with "almost"

In 1984, Roy Thomas, Jerry Ordway and Mike Machlan debuted Infinity, Inc. #1, which was a brand-new superhero team set on Earth-2 that was made up of the "next generation" of Earth-2 superheroes. A few of them were outright the sons and daughters of either members of the Justice Society of America (or their villains), while some of them were cousins, godsons, etc.

Anyhow, with the launch of Alter Ego, Roy Thomas decided to look back on the creation of Infinity, Inc. and you can actually read the whole thing here.

However, suffice it to say that Roy and his wife, Dann (then Dannette), took a ferry ride in New York City and together came up with most of the ideas for the members of the next generation of Earth-2 superheroes (as Thomas noted at the time, he was doing All Star Squadron set in World War II and Arak, set thousands of years ago, and so he wanted do something set in the actual eighties!).

After Thomas and his wife came up with the basic idea of the series, they then brought in Mike Machlan and Jerry Ordway. The idea was that Machlan would pencil the comic book series and Ordway would ink it. Of course, it ended up being the exact opposite, with Ordway being the penciler on the team and Machlan Ordway's inker.

In any event, back when Machlan was still the penciler, Machlan and Ordway sketched out some ideas for the characters on the team, with Ordway writing notes on the paper about the characters as Machlan sketched them out.

There were a couple of characters who never got used, like Black Spectre...

But one character in particular stands out and that was Harlequin, who Ordway described in the notes as, "comics' first gay character. Or we could just assume it."

It is important, then, to note that Ordway specifically said that they might have just played it as an open secret sort of thing, sort of like how John Byrne had been writing Northstar in Alpha Flight.

However, since Thomas planned on Green Lantern having TWO kids on the team, Jade and Obsidian...

They figured that a THIRD Alan Scott kid would be pushing it, so Harlequin was not used.

They eventually introduced a villainous Harlequin in the series...

Now, of course, amusingly enough, Obsidian eventually turned out to be gay. However, that was not revealed until the 1990s. By then, DC had already had an openly gay superhero, Extrano, for a number of years...

And, of course, Northstar famously came out in 1992.

Also amusingly enough, Alan Scott himself was later rebooted in Earth 2 (part of DC's New 52) as gay...

Thanks to Roy Thomas, Jerry Ordway and Mike Machlan for the information!

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Was there almost a Gladiator sequel, despite the whole "the star dies at the end of the movie" thing?

Check back later for the final part of this week's Comic Book Legends Revealed!

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