“Do you think we will ever get a bisexual Superman?” reads a Reddit post on r/superman from two years ago. “Superman can fight discrimination as a straight person as well,” a top comment replied, while others wished people would stop trying to change established characters to fit their personal worldviews. “Why change a character’s sexual preference? Why not just introduce a new gay or bi character?” wondered another.
Enter Jonathan Kent, the son of original Superman Clark Kent and journalist Lois Lane. Characterised by his modern approach to fighting crime—from putting out wildfires, protesting in support of refugees in Metropolis and stopping high school shootings—Kent (Junior) is now finding his own identity in Superman with “a bold new direction” by coming out as bisexual.
According to DC Comics, who announced the update on 11 October (also known as the National Coming Out Day), the superhero’s sexuality will be revealed in the 9 November issue of Superman: Son of Kal-El. “Superman’s symbol has always stood for hope, for truth and for justice. Today, that symbol represents something more,” writer Tom Taylor said in a press release. “Today, more people can see themselves in the most powerful superhero in comics.”
Just like his father, Jon Kent has the hots for a reporter. After striking up a friendship with journalist Jay Nakamura, he and Kent Jr. become “romantically involved” as the comic progresses. “Following a scene where Superman mentally and physically burns out from trying to save everyone that he can, Jay is there to care for the Man of Steel,” the press release narrates.
In an interview with Reuters, Taylor outlined how the latest news is not a gimmick, explaining that having “another straight white savior” would be a missed opportunity in the quest to sketch out a new Superman for the DC Universe. “We didn’t want this to be ‘DC Comics creates new queer Superman’,” Taylor said. “We want this to be ‘Superman finds himself, becomes Superman and then comes out’, and I think that’s a really important distinction there.”
A quick scroll through Twitter today will gently nudge you into a rabbithole of wholesome reactions to the news. “Some real important stuff going on in the comics world today,” a fan tweeted. “Representation in such an iconic franchise will set the stage for so much going forward in that industry,” the tweet continued. When asked about the reactions Taylor has witnessed himself, the writer echoed an influx of positive comments. “I’m seeing tweets of people saying they burst into tears when they read the news, that they wished that Superman was this when they were growing up—that they could see themselves,” he shared with Reuters.
In contrast to die-hard fans of the comic, however, a niche audience has already burst into a frenzy after witnessing two male comic book characters kissing each other on Twitter—shock, horror! Behold, the Republicans. “Superman loves Louis Lane. Period. Hollywood is trying to make Superman gay and he is not,” tweeted Arizona Republican Wendy Rogers. I wish the “Louis” part of the tweet was a typo from my end too, but it only goes to show the kind of ‘extensive research’ detractors of the news are conducting.
Josh Mandel, a Republican running for a US Senate seat in Ohio, added his two cents by tweeting, “Bisexual comic books for kids. They are literally trying to destroy America.” Shortly after, Fox News ran an entire segment on the topic. “Why are they sexualising superheroes?” asked Raymond Arroyo, a frequent guest on Laura Ingraham’s show. “We just wanted them to catch the bad guys, not a venereal disease.” How lovely. The segment went on to highlight how other characters like Aquaman (though they mistakenly showed a picture of Aqualad instead), Robin and Loki are all part of the LGBTQ+ community now.
This conservative outrage, however, was short-lived. To cheesily quote a law that was set into motion: “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” “Every time Josh Mandel says something stupid they should make another superhero bisexual,” one user tweeted in response, while another wondered why Superman didn’t get as much hate from the Republicans this time around—considering that he is “an illegal immigrant without any papers.” And as Fox News found its feature story of the day, internet users were busy unpacking Rogers’ delusional typo tweet and wishing ‘Louis’ Lane and the new Superman all the best.
Although Superman’s son is not the first—and definitely not the last—LGBTQIA+ superhero on the block, the character is the second DC hero to come out, following Robin in a recent issue of Batman: Urban Legends. “I hope this isn’t a headline in a few years’ time,” Taylor concluded in the interview. “I hope this isn’t trending on Twitter. I hope this is just something about a person and good rep for everybody that it represents.” And while the comic world braces itself for more inclusivity and representation, conservative outbursts have to be considered inevitable. After all, the far right was once angry about a gay Captain America but didn’t voice the same outrage when he was portrayed as a Nazi. Priorities, am I right?
Andrew Neil, one of the driving forces behind the channel, left the organisation last week in a very public spat. He only presented a handful of shows before going on an extended break—during which he managed, eventually, to get out of his multimillion-pound contract. In an interview with the Daily Mail, he described his time there as “the worst eight months in my career.” Somewhat melodramatically, he claimed his experience was worse than being on an IRA hit list.
I have zero sympathy for Neil. It was clear from the outset what sort of operation GB News would be. They used his reputation and connections to give the project a veneer of respect. It was never about free speech or shifting the conversation, really—but a soulless attempt to stoke and profit from culture wars and conservative online discourse.
GB News is a failure in any measurable capacity. They count it as a win when they out-perform BBC News or Sky News, but focus entirely on the rolling news channels, which I’ve never known anyone to actively watch, merely tolerate. Their viewing figures pale in comparison to any major terrestrial news programming. Famously, a few months back, the Welsh language version of Paw Patrol—Patrôl Pawennau—was outperforming them in the ratings.
Put simply, the channel launched before it was ready. The poor production quality and litany of technical issues were widely mocked online. They had next to no rehearsals. “The CEO wanted to get on air, even if it was ramshackle, and then improve things,” claimed Neil when speaking to the Daily Mail. Quality hasn’t noticeably improved since, though, with regular factual inaccuracies and spelling errors of their own presenters’ names.
They managed to alienate significant chunks of their own viewer base when one of their presenters took the knee to protest racist abuse suffered by footballers after the Euro 2020 final; Guto Harri was suspended for his actions, then proceeded to quit. The hypocrisy of a channel founded on free speech was evident from the outset—‘free speech’ was, yet again, being used as an excuse for outdated or bigoted opinions. Left-wing commentators routinely decline invitations to join debates—because no meaningful debate ever happens, it’s just a machine to generate outrage.
Perhaps they aimed too high. 24-hour political commentary and coverage is a lot to manage, especially without third party content to fill the schedule. They didn’t want to provide breaking news coverage—due to the costs and logistics that would entail—but without any, the commentary often feels dry or slow. At a time when media consumption is becoming increasingly bite-sized, it seems like a strange decision to introduce a new news channel. Much of their most successful content are often short, viral clips that circulate online.
And, now, after previously abandoning such plans, it seems like the malevolent nonagenarian Rupert Murdoch is set to swoop in and set up a rival channel. He brings with him everything that GB News lacks: adequate funding and a modicum of experience. talkTV will launch early next year, with Piers Morgan presenting the flagship slot. Rumour has it that many at GB News are hoping for cushy new jobs at talkTV. News UK promises “proper hourly news bulletins, sports and entertainment shows […] current affairs, debate, opinion and documentaries.” A wider array of content might prove more popular and more successful.
Despite its questionable success, GB News doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. It has found a rather small core group of supporters who staunchly defend the programming, believing it to be more trustworthy than its competition despite, objectively, being a right-wing echo chamber edging further and further to the right. It will, it seems, continue to churn out mediocre political analysis for the foreseeable future. It appears doubtful that it will have the impact the channel’s founders had hoped—if anything, they’ve managed to prove how vital our other news operations are.