Queer Comic Book Characters: Johnny Bart (Oct 18th)

Not every Silver Age character comes back, but Johnny Bart (The Rawhide Kid) has made his appearances throughout the years. Despite that Western-themed comics have fallen out of favor for superheros, Johnny has remained one of the most popular Western characters.

Johnny Bart (The Rawhide Kid)

The Rawhide Kid

Johnny’s Silver Age comics were of the slapstick variety. He rode into town, fought the bad guys, made some quips, and rode back into the sunset. While he didn’t have any traditional superpowers, he was incredibly fast with his gun. As were most Western heroes.

He was orphaned and raised by Texas Ranger Ben Bart. No doubt trained to be a justice fighting cowboy from an early age.

Western stories are held up as some of the manliest tales; however, they are also the most homoerotic. The women are few and far between, especially lacking in the more wilds of the West. The hero is more likely to find his solace in the companionship of his partner than anyone else.

In 2003, a three issue limited series starring Johnny was released. It was featured on Marvel MAX’s line, the adult line, and Johnny comes out in its pages. This miniseries was given poor reviews as being full of gay stereotypes. Not to mention the only reason it was imprinted in Marvel’s MAX line was Johnny being openly gay. As one blogger put it:

The only thing that is puzzling is the giant “Parental Advisory – Explicit Content” warning on the cover. There is very little violence. The sexual situations are pretty damn oblique. Even the language is fairly tame. I’d give it a soft PG. The rating seems to stem solely from the fact that the protagonist is an over-the-top homosexual. That’s explicit content? Hmmm. Unless something really naughty happens soon I would suspect that Marvel is luring in readers with false hopes of smut.

Thankfully, since this release, Marvel has changed their policy about marking anything queer with the adult imprint, and maybe Johnny will get his due in another book were he can be out without being labeled ‘Adult.’

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