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The new Rawhide Kid
   
 

dioses mitologicosMarvel Comics, known for a variety of comic books ranging from the famous "X-Men" and "Hulk" to "Spiderman" and "Daredevil", has made a major milestone in the comic book industry with the launch of a new series, featuring a gay leading hero.

The main character of "The Rawhide Kid" is a gay cowboy (Rawhide Kid) in a traditional heterosexual western setting. He is never seen as openly gay though his homosexuality is revealed through innuendos and storyline scenarios.

 
 
   
 

thorThe Rawhide Kid is not the first gay character, however. Marvel also has a supporting gay character in the "X-Men" series named North Star. In addition, rival DC Comics has featured a few gay, lesbian and bisexual characters as well, including lesbian Maggie Sawyer of "Gotham Central" and Apollo and the Midnighter from "The Authority". DC Comics also broke barriers by addressing the issue of gay bashing and hate crimes in episode no. 154 of "Green Lantern".

Rawhide Kid's co-creator Alex Alonso, writer Ron Zimmerman, editor Stan Lee, and 82 year-old artist John Severin predict some gays may see Rawhide Kid as "too queeny or over-the-top", but hope readers will see that The Kid is an empowered character that demands respect. Zimmerman notes, "Don't call this guy a fag. It's rude." Ironically, Zimmerman is a past writer for "The Howard Stern Show".

Marvel Comics prints "The Rawhide Kid" under their MAX Banner label, sold only to mature readers.

Although shy with girls, the original Rawhide Kid was not intended to be gay. The new version uses double entendres and euphemisms to reveal his homosexuality without saying anything explicitly.

 

Based on a blurb on Marvel's Web site, the tone may be campy. In a bubble in the first edition of the series, Rawhide Kid comments about the Lone Ranger: "I think that mask and the powder blue outfit are fantastic. I can certainly see why the Indian follows him around."

Brian Reinert, Marvel's public relations officer, said that Marvel has always been "interested in tapping into stories that are relevant today." He expects the reactions to this comic to vary.

ApoloAlthough many readers will accept the new sexuality of the Marvel hero, Reinert expects possible negative responses from people who don't accept homosexuality and readers who do not want to see a change in their beloved character.

"When you tackle these issues it will always push buttons," he said.

Marvel is planning six stories over the next six months. After looking at the response to those issues they will decide whether to continue production and whether they would be interested in more series with gay title characters.

Although Rawhide Kid is the first gay title character, Marvel does have several existing gay characters, such as North Star of the "X-Men" comic book series.

The Rawhide Kid series, beginning with the first edition "Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather,"was published biweekly by Marvel's mature-audience MAX imprint. Here the character was depicted as homosexual, with a good portion of the dialogue dedicated to innuendo to this effect. The series, which was written by Ron Zimmerman, and drawn by artist John Severin, was labeled with a "Parental Advisory Explicit Content" warning on the cover. Series editor Axel Alonso said, "We thought it would be interesting to play with the genre. Enigmatic cowboy rides into dusty little desert town victimized by desperadoes, saves the day, wins everyone's heart, then rides off into the sunset, looking better than any cowboy has a right to."

A sequel miniseries, The Rawhide Kid vol. (Aug.-Nov. 2010), rendered with a subtitle on covers as Rawhide Kid: The Sensational Seven, found the Kid and his posse (consisting of Kid Colt, Doc Holliday, Annie Oakley, Billy the Kid, Red Wolf and The Two-Gun Kid) track the villainous Cristo Pike after Pike and his gang kidnap Wyatt and Morgan Earp. The sequel was again written by Zimmerman, with Howard Chaykin taking over as artist.

 
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