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Keeping Up With the Gays of DC and Marvel


Just in time for Comic Con: A crash course on what some of the gay superheroes have been up to (with some spoilers)

The past year has brought an increase of gay and lesbian moments in comic books. Especially key moments for superheroes brought upon by DC's The New 52, the revamp and relaunch of DC's entire list of comics in late summer 2011, and the further character and story development of Marvel's first openly gay superhero. With New York Comic Con this weekend, there is no better time for a catch-up session with some of your favorites (and maybe new favorites) from the world of gay superheroes.

DC's Batwoman Kathy Kane has been around since the 1950s on and off, but she did not make as big of an impact as she did in 2006 when she was brought back from comic book limbo and reintroduced as Kate Kane; with a edgier look and openly gay (making her the highest profile gay superhero from DC). She had her own story arc in DC's flagship title (collected in graphic novel Batwoman: Elegy), and with DC's The New 52, she still remained as lesbian Kate Kane (as several from DC universe had their back story and history altered) and gained her own title; making her the first gay character to headline a monthly series for DC. This September's issue of Batwoman, we are given a background story to Kate Kane's pre-Batwoman years (material not covered in past materials such as Elegy) and focuss on her relationship with her father.

The New 52 brought back the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, and revitalized him as young and gay in the Earth 2 series this summer. Already out in his first issue, he was proposing to his boyfriend Sam, but there was an accident. Sam died and Alan survived by the help of a green flame, which granted him powers, and the ring he was about to put on Sam gets turned into his power ring. He vowed to avenge his love as the accident was caused by a new threat to the world. In the latest issue (Earth 2 #5), during at battle to learn about an entity called The Grey, Alan and Sam are spiritually some how reunited in the final panel.

A new young out and proud hero was also introduced to the new Teen Titans. Bunker, who is of Mexican descent and his family and village are supportive of him, is the creation of Scott Lobdell. Since the focus of the storyline is on all the heroes, we are still getting a taste of Bunker, who always has an upbeat persona on him. [SPOILERS] San Diego Comic Con announced in the near future we will meet Bunker's boyfriend from Mexico, who was left behind in a coma (but will wake up).

The well-known DC married gay couple, Midnighter and Apollo from The Authority team, Have received changes with The New 52. They are part of the Stormwatch series, and they are no longer married, but instead met for the first in the first issue last year. They ar both still gay, but Midnighter seems to be cautious about it in public. Each interaction between the two since meeting implies they will become a whole pair once again.

NorthstarThis year marked the 20-year anniversary of the coming out of Marvel's leading gay hero, Northstar, and to celebrate they brought us the joy of the first same-sex superhero wedding in Marvel history (probably the most talked about comic book event this year). Northstar and his long term civilian boyfriend Kyle wed this past June in New York (a nice nodge to a year after same-sex marriage passing in the state). There is a graphic novel, Astonishing X-Men: Northstar, released of the monumental moment, and events leading to it. In issues following the wedding, we see how Northstar is taking on his husbandly role and his overprotecting self is emerging, which will be interesting to see how that affect's the newlyweds and Northstar's relationship with his teammates when Kyle's safety is jeopardize.

Joining Northstar in the Astonishing X-Men series is lesbian mutant Karma (who came out in 2003 as one of the first openly lesbian superheroes). Unlike her fellow gay teammate, Karma has always been a part of an X team. She has had an interesting past and traumatic past, such as seeing the death of her parents at a young age, going under mental domination by an all powerful evil mutant (Shadow King), and most recently, has lost one of her legs (which has been replaced by a prosthetic one). Not too much has been explored on her sexuality, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming issues since her main character role in the series.

Other members of the gay community in the X-Men series include young gays such as the reptile-like Anole (who has been mentored by both Northstar and Karma, and has become a regular member of the team), Graymalkin (was found by Anole, who helped him come to terms with his sexuality and is mentoring him), and Karolina Dean (a lesbian from the Runaways series from 2009, but the team has resurfaced in recent issues of Avengers Academy). There is also the gay mutant couple of Shatterstar and Rictor, who shared their first kiss and became a couple in 2009 after years of a very close friendship and hints of them being gay. From the X-Factor series, the couple's relationship was explored and the writer Peter David won a GLAAD Award in 2011. They are still together, but as this is Shatterstar's first romance, he is exploring the idea of women.

Outside of the X-Men, the Avengers also have a few players for our team, including a couple of young heroes in Avengers Academy, and the well received gay couple of Wiccan and Hulkling. In December, young heroes Lightspeed (Julie Power from the Power Pack who creates a rainbow when she flies) and new hotshot Striker (a fame hungry hero with electrical powers) came out to one another in Avengers Academy #23. Lightspeed is bi, and when the team encountered the Runaways, she and Karolina flirted with each other in the middle of combat during Avengers Academy #27. The two have started dating since then, Karolina has always been a lesbain in her series and has had two girlfriends.

Lightspeed and Striker (who is gay) had a whole conversation when they came out to each other, including Striker revelaing he was touched inappropriately by his male manager when he was child actor, and they discussed labels. In the latest issue, Avengers Academy #38, a football match takes place against the children from the X-Men where Striker and Anole meet when they line up against each other during the game. They have a chat about being paired up since they are the only gay kids on their teams, and they discuss their types. Striker has no idea since still newly out, but discouraged due to scars on his face, but Anole tells him not to think like that (would be interesting to see them talk further and if Anole takes him under his wing as with Graymalkin). Avengers Academy is set to end next month, with the future of Lightspeed and Striker is unclear at the moment. Perhaps Striker will join Anole with the X-Men, and Lightspeed with Karolina and the Runaways.


Lastly, this year at the end of Young Avengers: The Children's Crusade, Wiccan and Hulkling shared their first kiss (after seven years) after Hulkling made an impromptu proposal (Wiccan never actually said "I do," but the passionate kiss surly implies a yes). They were officially recognized as full-fledged Avengers, and it was announced that a new Young Avengers series will be released in January 2013, with the couple being part of the core team. In a Q&A between and writer Kieron Gillen, [SPOILERS] he says Wiccan is still in a depressed emotional place from events from The Children's Crusade (prior to proposal), and he is burnt out on super heroics; worried he will get more friends killed or lives destroyed. Hulkling, on the other hand, has started his course on being a super hero (on the DL from Wiccan). At the start of the story Wiccan will discover this, which will come off as a "you were cheating on me!" type of scenario.



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