Social Justice Warrior
The Switch: 3 Classic Characters That Should Be Gender Swapped

Ross Lincoln | 10 Jul 2014 19:00
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If Danger Mouse can do it, anyone can. Here are a few classics that would rule if the genders were reversed.

To be honest, when it was announced earlier this week that the upcoming Danger Mouse reboot/relaunch would involve the gender-swapping of certain (still unannounced) characters, I expected some kind of backlash. Obviously, I have a somewhat cynical disposition, but that disposition has been encouraged by a series of rather embarrassing spectacles over the last few years surrounding differing interpretations of classic characters. The recent, unmistakably racist reaction to the casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot is just one example.

But geekdom made me proud, everyone. Instead of gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, the overwhelming response has been fun conversations wondering which characters will be getting the gender-swap treatment. (Personally, I like the idea of Colonel K. being reimagined as a Judi Dench-as-M type.) That sounds like progress to me!

And it got me thinking. Increasingly, geeks of all stripes are welcoming to the idea that our media ought to at least somewhat reflect the culture we actually live in. Which is why we're seeing positive responses to the new Ms. Marvel, why there is a genuinely annoyed response whenever it looks like Warner Bros. doesn't seem to recognize how awesome a Wonder Woman movie would be, and, yes, why the reaction to the Danger Mouse news has been fun instead of infuriating.

While it would obviously be preferable for a greater reflection of our culture to include the creation of new characters and franchises, we live in a reboot/relaunch/remake world. Hell, DC resets its entire continuity about once every 10 years. So if these reboots are going to keep happening - and they will - let's have some fun with it. Here are three classic comic characters that would be perfect fits for gender-swapping.

nexus

Nexus

Mike Baron and Steve Rude's mashup of space opera and superhero should be required reading for anyone considering themselves a comics fan. Set in the 27th century, it concerns the adventures of Horatio Hellpop, a human given fantastic powers by an alien consciousness called The Merk. As it turns out, in exchange for his new powers, Horatio must become a "Nexus", an embodiment of justice who is required to assassinate a certain number of human mass murderers every year. When the time comes, Horatio is afflicted with crippling migraine headaches and horrible nightmares in which he experiences his next target's crimes from the POV of their victims. He must then travel to wherever the dreams command him to kill the target.

Simultaneously managing to mercilessly satirize both communist tyranny (this series did start in the 80s) and capitalism run amok, the series is a ridiculous, Hitchhiker's Guide-level riff on space opera tropes that often feels like a cross between Buck Rogers, George Orwell, and The Punisher. The series lives and dies (mostly lives) through its beautifully weird cast of supporting characters, including a sleazy stand-up comic called Clonezone the Hilariator, a member of an humanoid/apelike race who works as a "freelance adjudicator" - someone who, like Nexus, kills bad guys - calling himself "Judah Maccabee", and various corrupt and inept government stooges of all political stripes.

But while much of the series is devoted to exploring the origins of Horatio's powers and the trauma they put him through, he is also, for the most part, a cypher. The Nexus is, after all, a job Horatio was forced into, somewhat like getting drafted into the Green Lantern Corps. The series continuity establishes early-on that The Merk can easily select any human it deems worthy (and in fact, it's noted that among the alien races in the Nexus universe, humans are uniquely suited to the job of being a Nexus). And that means it can be a legacy character, making it a great fit for a woman to assume the role without having to reboot the entire universe to do it.

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