Fans angered by transphobia in Image Comics' 'Airboy'

July 2, 2015

Yesterday, Image Comics released the second issue of the new series Airboy by well-known writer James Robinson and artist Greg Hinkle. Today fans are taking to social media to express their anger and disappointment to the publisher in the midst of its annual expo to promote upcoming titles.

In the issue, James Robinson and Greg Hinkle are drawn into the comic as fictionalized versions of themselves. They encounter a WWII-era superhero named Airboy and take him to a nightclub where he finds the women very attractive.

Hinkle starts to tell him that the women are transgender women, but Airboy runs off to flirt before he can finish the sentence. In the book, Robinson says to Hinkle, "What're you thinking? Don't tell him this place is filled with trannies and drag queens. He'll flip the fuck out." 

Later Robinson and Airboy are each shown in a bathroom stall receiving oral sex from two of the women in the bar. Afterwards, Hinkle says to Robinson, "You got blown by a tranny." 

Finally Airboy explodes in anger when he discovers that the woman he hooked up with "had a penis." He asks Robinson, "Wait, so your girl was a man as well?" Airboy storms off calling Robinson and Hinkle degenerates and complaining about this "sick, ugly world."
Robinson and Hinkle not only use slurs to refer to trans women and assert that they are 'not girls' and really men, they repeat the trope that trans women are nameless (and largely faceless, in this instance) sex workers who have sex with unsuspecting men.

This trope is particularly dangerous, as trans women are often violently assaulted by men who feel they've been "deceived." In the past six months, nine transgender women have been murdered in the United States.

Robinson's previous work on Starman and Earth 2 has included multi-dimensional gay male characters. In fact, both received GLAAD Media Award nominations for Outstanding Comic Book. Not to mention that Image Comics is currently publishing at least two books with interesting trans characters: Wicked + Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, and Trees by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard.

It is disappointing that Robinson would create such a transphobic scene when he's been an ally on gay issues. And even more disappointing that Image Comics would damage its own reputation for publishing strong trans characters by allowing this scene to appear in this issue.

"It's shocking in 2015 that a publisher would allow this type of transphobic scene to be associated with its brand," said Nick Adams, GLAAD's Director of Programs, Transgender Media. "Robinson and Hinkle repeat the outdated, stereotypical attitudes toward transgender women that the rest of America is quickly leaving behind."