Gay Characters in Comics

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The world’s first all-gay superhero team fights a 50-foot lesbian, teams up with a group of deadly (pink!) ninjas, battles zombies, and tries to cope with the dramas of their own love lives in the award-nominated comic book series, Martin Eden’s Spandex . Titan Books’ new story hits shelves June 19, and the Brighton-based heroes have already won the hearts of many in the British indie comics scene.

Eden conceived of the super-powered team while working on his popular comic soap series, The O Men, aiming to make something more self-contained and more, well, gay. A glamorous transvestite, a powerful lesbian, and other rainbow-friendly characters dive into drama, action, and romance like no other superteam before them. “This comic has been a labour of love for me — it’s fun and experimental, and I’m really excited about taking the characters and the comic to a much wider audience,” Eden said.

Since DC Comics recently revealed the identity of one of its newest gay superheroes — Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern — we thought it was a prime time to ask Eden about his favorite gay comic heroes. We shared his picks past the break, including one of Eden’s characters who you can meet when Spandex: Fast and Hard publishes next week. Tell us about some of your favorite gay characters below.

Love and Rockets’ Maggie

“I always think of Maggie as a lesbian, but she is actually kind of bisexual. She was in a lesbian relationship with Hopey [her bass-playing best friend] for ages, and then dated several women, but now she’s with Ray. It doesn’t really matter — the characters in Jaime Hernandez’s part of Love and Rockets seem so real, and you just enjoy whatever they get up to.”

Marvel Comics’ Northstar

“Well, you have to include Northstar. Apparently it was obvious from day one that he was gay, back in the early issues of Alpha Flight, but I didn’t notice. He’s floundered over the years, and writers haven’t really known what to do with him, but now he’s a very cool, well-rounded character.” [Editor’s note: Northstar is set to finally marry his boyfriend — events manager Kyle Jinadu — in Astonishing X-Men #51, scheduled to be published June 27.]

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Marvel Comics’ Karma

“It’s a strange state of affairs when the most interesting thing you can say about a character is that she once got really fat (thanks to a weird, large supervillain) and then lost all the weight by walking across an Asgardian desert. Karma was never one of the most interesting characters, but of late she has become a lesbian [revealed after confessing love for X-Men mutant Kitty Pryde, AKA Shadowcat] (and lost a leg!), so things are picking up for her.” [Editor’s note: Karma’s relationship with Catholicism is an interesting connection to topical conversations about religion and sexuality.]

Spandex’s Prowler

“I had to pick one of my own characters! I shouldn’t pick favorites, but I do have a lot of fun with Prowler, and I see him as a bit of a spokesperson for my thoughts. He has a fun power — the power to absorb the skills and abilities of any gay person. A lot of Internet critics initially were like, ‘What the hell… ?’ about his powers, but they are quite fun. He can learn a language from a gay person, combine the strength of a bunch of gay people, learn a new skill, etc. To be honest, there is a secret about the true nature of Prowler’s powers, and I explore that later on in the series.”

DC Comics’ Batwoman

“There was a lot of fuss in the media when Batwoman [AKA wealthy socialite Kathy Kane] first emerged, and I think she’s an amazing character. She looks very gothic! It also helps that her comic is drawn by J.H. Williams III, who is an incredible artist.” [Editor’s note: She was in a relationship with former Gotham City police detective Renee Montoya. Batwoman wasn’t a very well received character as Martin mentions, but her newfound sexuality endeared her to some fans who felt it made her more “real” and not just a sexist 1950’s/1960’s decoy to reaffirm Batman’s sexuality.]

DC Comics’ Apollo and Midnighter

“Warren Ellis and Mark Millar’s stints on Stormwatch and Authority were groundbreaking in many ways, but the idea of having a [parallel] gay Superman and Batman [archetype] was truly inspired.” [Editor’s note: After the couple married, they adopted now Authority superheroine Jenny Quantum. The portrayal of Apollo and Midnighter’s relationship has also been honored with a GLAAD award.]

Marvel Comics’ Mystique and Destiny

“In Claremont’s X-Men, Mystique and Destiny used to hang around quite a lot together, and Claremont has revealed that the characters were actually lovers (and the foster parents of Rogue). [Their relationship was hidden due to the old Comics Code Authority and Marvel policy prohibiting the ‘explicit’ portrayal of gay or bisexual characters.] Destiny was murdered, though (what a waste of a great character), and Mystique has since dated several fellas.”

DC Comics’ Renee Montoya

“I never really got into Gotham Central [a series focusing on the Batman-inspired, fictional city’s police force], but Renee was one of the best characters, and her conflicts with her family over her sexuality were touching. She then became the new ‘Question’ [succeeding former investigative reporter Vic Sage] but I think that character works better as a guy.” [Editor’s note: readers, could Renee’s transformation into the Question — sometimes illustrating her as ambiguously male and female — be DC Comics’ oblique, or superficial way of saying that Renee is a transgender or genderqueer person?]