Friday, August 15, 2008

The Return of EXTRANO!

This week DC Comics released a trade-paper collection of Steve Englehart & Joe Staton's MILLENNIUM, an 8-part miniseries from 20 years ago. The original series, which ran in weekly installments for 8 weeks, was a grand attempt to introduce a diverse new superteam into the DC Universe.In the well-intended series, a group of individuals were chosen by The Guardians of The Universe (the little blue guys from GREEN LANTERN) to advance to the next step of human evolution. The team, dubbed THE NEW GUARDIANS featured characters from across the globe including a flamboyant, possibly alcoholic and suicidal young man from Peru named Gregorio De La Vega. Gregorio was possibly the most offensively stereotypical of the bunch, which also included a Chinese woman, an English girl, a Japanese man, an Aboriginal woman and three previously existing characters: The villain named The Floronic Man, Tom ('Pie Face') Kalmaku from GREEN LANTERN and fan-favorite Harbinger, who survived CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS only to be sadly sacrificed years later in the new Supergirl origin in the mostly horrendous SUPERMAN/BATMAN series.Gregorio was transformed into Extrano - translated from Spanish meaning "strange" - which I guess makes him DC's gay version of Marvel's Dr. Strange. Extrano's powers were magical, performing "tricks," levitating and firing energy blasts from his (limp) wrists. He was also comic relief. When the NEW GUARDIANS were awarded their own monthly title, Extrano acquired a crystal skull which not only beefed up his powers, but butched him up a bit too. Unfortunately, one of the team's foes was a vampire with HIV which attacked several members including Extrano, who lated tested positive for HIV. So much for comic relief. He has not been seen since the title was cancelled, though fellow HIV positive teammate Jet has recently returned in the pages of GREEN LANTERN as the leader of the Global Guardians. Gay fanboys have a love/hate relationship with Extrano. We love that there was finally a queer superhero, but hated that he was so nelly and cliched. But ultimately, his existence paved the way for many more openly gay and lesbian heroes and villains in the DCU and beyond. My hope is that Extrano's still out there somewhere in the DCU being "strange" and some smart writer will tell the rest of his story. Paging Marc Andreyko!


pete said...

I remember loathing Extrano when he first showed up, but now I find him rather quaint, sort of like Uncle Arthur on Bewitched.

doug said...
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