By Steve Morris
Connor Hawke isn’t aromantic, he’s asexual. This past week it was finally expressed on-panel in a comic, in a story within DC Pride 2022, their annual anthology celebrating queer characters and creators which publishes during Pride Month. I’m aromantic, though, and I have the lengthy side-career in comics criticism to prove it. As a result, I’ve started keeping an eye on any mainstream comic stories about asexual characters – yeah, that’s right! I’m tracking all four of them. Good thing I have all this spare time from not being in a relationship with anyone, eh?
“Think Of Me” is not just about an asexual character, but it’s by an asexual creative team. Ro Stein and Ted Brandt wrote and drew the story, whilst Frank Cvetkovic lettered it. It finds Connor Hawke – son of Green Arrow – staking out the Music Meister, a villain who can control people through the power of song. Connor puts in some ear plugs, breaks into Meister’s theatre, and makes with the punchy-punch.
As he does so, we get to read extracts from a letter he’s writing to his mother, explaining how he realised he was asexual. As I’ve experienced myself, he explains how the asexual spectrum basically feels like a blankness or absence; the idea that something isn’t there. As a result, it’s tricky to actually think “hey, I’m asexual” at all, because there’s always that nagging idea that asexuality isn’t actually a thing. Here, that doubt is turned into self-confidence, as Connor’s inability to be part of the crowd is precisely what allows him to defeat Music Meister.
From the start, Connor is the most fully-defined character who appears, in terms of how he’s inked and outlined. He has a sharp and bold outline which makes him pop out of the story around him. Despite being the only character who can’t hear the sound which Music Meister uses to order about a small army of mind-controlled civilians, Connor is visually the loudest appearance here. The other characters have a weaker definition to their outline, and a muted colour palette which make them fade into the background whilst Connor flies forward.
The creative choice to make Connor into a dynamic and powerful image, to give him a presence here, deftly boosts the story. Asexuality may feel like there’s something lacking or missing from you, which everyone else enjoys every day. But asexuality doesn’t mean you have to lose your own definition: you can be the fully-realised version of yourself, even if you do have that disconnect from the rest of the crowd. You don’t have to fade away simply because everyone else seems to be so present.
Like I said before, I’m aromantic rather than asexual – and this story really helped me clarify that there’s a difference. Connor’s story isn’t mine, but wonderfully I felt an absence from this story about feeling an absence. As is the ace way, that’s what helped me feel a level of definition I hadn’t felt before.
DC Pride 2022 “Think of Me”
Writers & Artists: Ro Stein and Ted Brant
Letterer: Frank Cvetkovic
Editor: Andrea Shea
Steve Morris runs this site! Having previously written for sites including The Beat, ComicsAlliance, CBR and The MNT, he can be found on Twitter here. He’s a bunny.
This post was made possible thanks to the Shelfdust Patreon! To find out more, head to our Patreon page here!