From straight to gay to bisexual, the history of DC’s Joey “Jericho” Wilson’s sexuality has gone through quite a few changes since his introduction in 1984. IT’s not an uncommon thing to happen in comics. Characters will keep important factors to their backstory and origin and change in other ways. After all, Dick Grayson was not Robin forever, and not too long ago Tim Drake came out as bisexual.
Today, I thought I would go over the history of Jericho’s sexuality. From straight with a secret rough draft to a brief conformation that he was gay to Rebirth deciding to change it to bisexuality. This is an evolution of Joey “Jericho” Wilson.
In the Beginning: Why Jericho was Straight
Though he was ultimately straight in his debut, the thought of Jericho being gay wasn’t a foreign concept to his creators. According to an interview with head artist and New Teen Titans co-creator George Pérez (rest in peace), the idea of having Jericho be gay was an idea that he and Marv Wolfman considered. However, what ultimately made Wolfman and Pérez decide against this, was his attributes. In New Teen Titans, Jericho’s character can be summed up as “artistic, sensitive, and wide eyed” with “feminine features”. Or so Pérez had stated in the same interview. Because of that, they ended up deciding against having him gay. Their main concern was that he would have been a stereotype if they had.
Though I think it would have been an interesting and pretty revolutionary concept for Jericho to be gay in his debut, I can understand why they didn’t. I can see how it could have came off as a stereotype, even if they weren’t being malice. Though I cannot speak for either, I doubt that thy would have been intentionally malicious about it had they gone with it. I assume, had Wolfman and Pérez gone with the idea, they may have just wanted to make an artistic, sensitive, and empathetic character who just so happens to be gay. However, I can understand why they didn’t and I agree that stereotypes can be a tricky business. Because while some may argue that not all stereotypes are bad, the ones that are ‘bad’ have enough of a negative impact to want to avoid them as much as possible.
Jericho had one real relationship, which was with Kole. While he and Raven certainly had a connection, it never crossed the line between platonic and romantic. While readers don’t get to see too much in terms of romantic moments, it is clear that these two had a deep fondness for each other. Some key moments include, Kole being one of the few people invited into his home and he was a source of comfort for her. All and all, this
One Off: Confirmed Gay, if Only for an Issue
The best way I can summarize 2015’s Convergence storyline is several tie in stories throughout the multiverse. It wasn’t a long run, only lasting a few months. The Teen Titans tie in had two issues set in the New Teen Titans era with the main team, Kole, and Jericho making up a majority of the heroic roster.
In the New Teen Titans based tie in, Kole can’t seem to figure out why Jericho won’t return his advances. When Donna Troy suggests she talks to Jericho, Kole goes to see him. I think there was a fight during this interaction as well that Kole and Jericho had to deal with, and once they finish it, Kole continues on her path to find answers. With this interaction, she is a little more forward, kissing him. But when he seems not to reciprocate, she asks why.
It’s here that Kole learns why he never really returned her advances. With just a few signs, Jericho tells her that he’s gay. She isn’t upset by this revelation, accepting it along with him.
This is the only time it’s really discussed in the New 52. With the Convergence mini-series coming out so close to New 52’s end and Rebirth’s beginning, it never really gets addressed. Quite frankly, I don’t recall them ever really discussing it with Jericho in the main universe.
This scene from tie in feels like an homage/nod to what George Pérez and Marv Wolfman considered. In fact, Marv Wolfman was even a writer on both issues. I do wish they had the chance to explore it more, but they didn’t ultimately.
I’m not sure what the overall consensus is on how they approached this, so if there was an issue on how they went about it, I couldn’t tell you. I don’t think readers would have complained about Jericho being gay, so much as how the story handled it. If there were any critiques in that regard, I could understand why.
It wouldn’t last long, but for a brief moment, we got a glimpse into a DC world where Jericho was gay.
Bye, Bye, Bye: Rebirth and Bisexuality
Is that an N’SYNC reference? Yes, yes it is.
When Rebirth came around in mid 2016, there were a lot of series that got revived and revamped. Deathstroke’s Rebirth run was one of them, and is where Jericho consistently appears in. In it, he starts of engaged to a woman named Étienne. But after a series of events, she ends up dead. Initially believing this to be by his father’s hand, especially considering the two had a relationship before she was set to marry Jericho, Jericho holds it against him until he learns that it was Rose, who was not in control of her actions at the time, who killed Étienne.
Jericho would have two other romantic interactions. Prior to Étienne, he had a relationship with David “Dave” Isherwood. Isherwood would be the man who helped Jericho figure out that Jericho would be his alias. They would have a close bond, which Étienne would learn about not too long before her death (telling him that her sleeping with Slade made them even essentially). Isherwood would also be the one to help get Jericho back to normal in the Year of the Villain storyline, which took place towards the end of Deathstroke’s Rebirth run.
The biggest issue with this relationship was, not only the age gap, but David Isherwood’s relationship to Slade. Isherwood would be the one who worked on the Ikon suits, one of which Jericho would use after he thinks he kills Isherwood. Because of how close he was to the Wilson family, that makes their brief romance morally questionable. More so Isherwood since he should have known better as the elder in the relationship. Because while Slade doesn’t care who Jericho dates (man, woman, etc.), there was a line crossed when Isherwood had that romance with Jericho.
The only other relationship Jericho had in Rebirth was with a gentleman named Terrance. He was deaf, and was only in an issue or two from what I recall. He cared for Jericho, but was getting annoyed that their lives weren’t settling down. He wanted Jericho to stop worrying about his family (namely Slade and Rose) with what they put him through and focus more on them. But with everything going on, Jericho couldn’t. He did plan to propose to his partner, but ended up getting pulled into the climax of his part of the Year of the Villain storyline.
Not wanting to lose him, Jericho essentially trapped his boyfriend in their apartment as he went to take care of what he needed to. Rose would eventually find him, but he doesn’t know if their relationship was worth preserving. This is the last time we see Jericho’s boyfriend and readers don’t get to see if they patched things up or broke things off.
Rebirth Deathstroke was a hit or miss series. And while I would consider it one of my favorites from the Rebirth line, at least as a guilty pleasure, I can agree that it was a flawed series. I enjoyed the art, but only a handful of stories were enjoyable. I would recommend giving it a read if anyone is interested, but I don’t think it’s a series everyone will enjoy.
As far as Jericho’s bisexuality, I thought it was interesting and a good way to approach the character. I do think that it would have been interesting if they had expanded on him being gay a bit more, even if Convergence’s Jericho was from another universe. However, when all is said and done, DC was the one who ultimately made the call. That said, I think that there could/would have been more issue with making him straight again after revealing he was gay than there might have been by making him bisexual. So while maybe not ideal for everyone, Jericho being bisexual is a step in the right direction.
The only thing I might change about how they approached it in Rebirth is with Isherwood. Had Isherwood been a few years younger and had he not been as close as he was to the Wilson family, it wouldn’t wouldn’t come off as uncomfortable when readers really think about it. How much Isherwood cared was what convinced him to help Jericho in the Year of the Villain storyline, in which he ultimately sacrificed himself to save Jericho. However, as touching as it would have been in any other circumstance, factors surrounding their relationship ruin it.
It would have been nice if they had developed Jericho’s relationship with Terrance. I think that would have been the relationship to develop out of all three he had. Étienne played her role as a fiancée as well as an agent for Amanda Waller. And while Isherwood cared for Jericho, it gets really messy when all of the factors in their relationship is looked at. With his boyfriend, there could have been a chance for Jericho to have happiness. I also think that it would have been a great way to represent individual characters and romantic partners who have physical handicaps like mutism, blindness, and deafness. Jericho using sign language had been on the decline for a while, and with him being able to use telepathy, it becomes even more ignored. So I think that, had this relationship had time to grow and develop, readers could have gotten a great way to reintroduce sign language to Jericho while also giving readers who share similar disabilities to have characters to relate to.
Where to Go From Here? Closing Thoughts
To my knowledge, Jericho hasn’t made a return to DC Comics. Having stopped reading towards the end of Rebirth and not jumping into Future State or Infinity Frontier, I cannot say when they plan to bring back the Wilson family if they haven’t already, or if plan to at all. Assuming DC does bring back Deathstroke and his family, which given how popular the character has become, I would like to see a few things when it comes to Jericho. To keep his personality short and to the point (I could do a whole blog discussing how they could improve that) I would say try something closer to his New Teen Titans personality with a good level of caution and maybe even a bit of distrust towards his father.
When it comes to his sexuality, I would say either continue with his bisexuality from Rebirth or build on Convergence’s decision to make (a version of) him gay. Whichever DC were to choose, I would also want it to be properly developed and healthy. Maybe give him a partner who won’t be intimidated by his family and/or is willing to help him recover from what his parents, mainly Slade, though Adeline isn’t completely innocent in it either, caused him. Love for each other, having development, and being healthy is what I think would make a relationship with Jericho good.
Jericho is a character that DC doesn’t seem to know what to do with in certain situations. His sexuality being one such situation. Given how much has changed since his conception when it comes to sexuality and comics, I think that going with that draft of Jericho Marv Wolfman and George Pérez would be interesting to see developed. Or, at the very least continuing with Rebirth’s bisexuality decision for the sake of consistency and/or a sort of “middle ground” if DC decided not to go with Jericho being gay.