Tag Archives: DC Comics

The Evolution of Vibe: The First Popular Caribbean American Superhero

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Born to Puerto Rican parents in Detroit, Francisco “Paco” Ramon was born with the ability to create vibrational shock waves. When he first appeared in Justice League of America Annual #2  in 1984, Vibe was a breakdancer, who ran a local Detroit gang called Los Lobos.  Eventually  He gave up gang life and joined the reformed Justice League when they relocated to Detroit. In 1987, during an assault by Darkseid against the Justice League, Vibe was attacked by an  androids, and became the first Justice League member to be killed in the line of duty.

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Happily in 2013, as part of DC’s New 52, the character got a fresh start (free of racial stereotypes) in his own title comic created by Andrew Kreisberg and artist Pete WoodsVibe #1 made him one of the first Caribbean American superheroes to get his own self-titled series (Ultimate Comics Spiderman‘s part-Puerto Rican Miles Morales beats him out by two years).Vibe

 

In this new continuity, we learn much more about Ramon’s family, one of whom was a casualty of Darkseid’s invasion of Earth, the same event that gave Ramon his powers. His sense of interdimensional events got him recruited by A.R.G.U.S. This new origin also endowed him with the ability to disrupt the Speed Force, an extra-dimensional energy force that gives certain heroes in the DC universe their super-speed abilities. This new development makes him a threat to characters like The Flash and made him a candidate for recruitment by the Justice League of America.

The 2013 relaunch of Vibe gave the superhero some useful new powers
The 2013 relaunch of Vibe gave the superhero some useful new powers

 

 

It’s also probably the main reason for the inclusion of Vibe in the upcoming The Flash television series premiering on The CW this year.

Peep the brand new extended trailer:

Happy Caribbean American Heritage Month!

Black Panther: The First Mainstream Black Superhero #GeekyBlackHistoryMonth

blackpanther

Black Panther is a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, he first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966). He is the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, and his debut was soon followed by other Black mainstream superheroes including Marvel’s Falcon (1969) and Luke Cage (1972) and DC ComicsTyroc (1976), Black Lightning (1977) and John Stewart (1971). First appearing in July 1966, the character just barely predates The Black Panther party, which was founded in October 1996. Original designs, however, had the character named “Coal Tiger” and donning a very different costume.

black panther

Beyond the mask, the current Black Panther is known as T’Challa is  a super genius warrior king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, the most technologically advanced nation on Earth. He is one of the smartest men in the Marvel Universe, a former Avenger, and has been romantically involved with X-man Storm. T’chall’s father T’chaka preceded him as King of Wakanda and as the previous Black Panther before he was killed protecting his family.

In 2011, BET partnered with Marvel to create an animated Black Panther series, that is so incredibly dope. With characters voiced by talent like Jill Scott, Kerry Washington, and Djimon Hounsou as Black Panther, you definitely want to check this out. And just to make it that much easier for you… peep the first episode below:

5 Ways To Make Your Superhero Miserable

So, you’ve probably heard by now all the fuss about writers J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman leaving DC Comics after the editors told them they couldn’t write Batwoman‘s marriage. Big hulabaloo ensues. DC replaces them with an openly gay writer to make themselves look better, and they defend themselves by saying the no marriage thing had “nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the character,” but rather because, as Dan Didio said at Baltimore Comic Con

“Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives. They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests.”

Okay…

I mean, fine. It’s true. Heroes of the super variety do tend to basically have shitty lives. Batman can’t hold on to a lady friend, Iceman basically almost destroys the world, Rogue can’t get anywhere near first base…

But let’s think about this for a second.  Marriage is kind of a sensitive topic in the LGBTQ community.  You know, the institution being not-so-fictionally denied them until about oh two and a half months ago.

So an editorial board denying one of its few LGBTQ heroes the chance to get married without some kind of story referencing DOMA or something and then saying it has “nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the character” is sort of like putting a giant banana on a comic full of Black characters and saying it has nothing to do with race… Oh wait… that happened too.

Point is, sure maybe they didn’t decide Batwoman couldn’t get married because they are against gay marriage, but rather because they don’t want any of the Bat family getting married (which isn’t actually what they said, they only said they don’t want them having happy personal lives, but whatever). Nonetheless, it’s pretty ignorant to pretend the denial of marriage in general has nothing to do with the LGBTQ community.   Add on top of that the fact that they created an alternate universe Alan Scott, the classic Green Lantern, who was gay and proposed to his boyfriend only to see the boyfriend die like 2 seconds later. Smell an unfortunate trend? But let’s stick with their story and accept that it wasn’t anti-gay marriage, just kinda dumb and insensitive.

Bananas are bananas. Put them on a picture of a bunch of Black folk, they’re not just bananas anymore… regardless of the intent. Is DC’s decision anti-gay? Probably not. Is it ridiculously stupid? Yup.

To exemplify just how stupid, here are 5 other ways that DC could make sure Batwoman’s personal life stays full of suck (mildly spoilery if you don’t keep up with your DC).

1. Paralyze her

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What could possibly be worse for a hero who’s “committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests,” by punching and kicking things than taking away their ability to punch and kick things. Oracle (Batgirl) knows a thing or two about it, lucky for her she’s also a super computer whiz and managed to stay in the game that way. But what about our military-trained, party-girl Kate Kane? Here’s betting she go on a twenty-year drinking binge and destroy her marriage before Batman bought her bionic legs or something. Then she could be all sad and wompy all the time about how she alienated her wife and was half-android now.

2. Kill her wife.

You know what’s more traumatic than not getting married? Getting married and then watching your significant other die. Just ask Katana. The whole kill the love of your life thing is totally a staple of hero adventures. It’s basically how women got into the business at all. Got a hero? Here, have a woman he can love and lose so he can go all dark and gruffy, just how we like ’em.  And it makes life totally worse if you give the hope of happiness first and then rip it cruelly away and scar them for a good long forever. Just look at Katana, she’s been talking to her husband’s spirit in a sword for some 30 years now.

3. Kill her son. 

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Seriously, the potential for a miserable personal life only increases with marriage (no jab intended at you lucky couples), but honestly, imagine if Kane was allowed to marry her beloved, and then they have a successful in vitro, despite all odds, and raise a happy plump little boy name BatAwesome, who lives a solid 10 years only to be used to try to murder you and ultimately get killed by his own clone.  Ya. That’d really suck, wouldn’t it TaliaBatman?

4. Blow up her whole planet. 

Actually, maybe not. Superman seems to be doing alright with all that baggage…

5.  Kill every single woman on Earth in one fell swoop, except her. 

LOL. Ya that’d suck, right?  Brian K. Vaughan was clearly playing off of that male fantasy to be the only male option on Earth when he killed off all but one guy in Y: The Last Man. But imagine it the other way around. A woman who loves women stuck in a world full of dudes… I can’t even deal with the level of sad and effed up that is. But now imagine if she had been married to Mags when that horrible ish went down. Rather than a man alone in a world full of women (with mostly violent intents towards him) searching desperately for his girlfriend, you’d have one really really lonely, miserable, sexually-frustrated Batwoman.

Okay, that’s a stretch, but you get the point, right? Marriage is maybe sort of totally a big deal for everyone, but it’s especially poignant for those denied the right, and the wound is still fresh, so maybe a little extra thought on this one DC? Maybe no hard fast rules that you blanket across your mostly white, male heroes. If you’re gonna have a diversity of heroes, you might want to have a diversity of miseries too, ya?

The Hypocrisy of Tolerance: Does Boycotting Ender’s Game Really Fight Orson Scott Card’s Bigotry?

Is it worth fighting intolerance with more of the same?  

by Forrest Sayrs  (Guest Contributor)

skip enders game
from SkipEndersGame.com

The geekier news sites have been abuzz this week with moral outrage and boycotts.  But unusually, it isn’t conservative America doing the boycotting.  Geeks are banding together to boycott the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s science fiction classic, Ender’s Game.  See, Card is vocally opposed to gay marriage.  He’s a card-carrying (har har) member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is a frequent contributor to a variety of conservative publications, including the Rhinoceros Times, and Sunstone.  In articles for these publications, he has advocated bans on gay marriage and called for the destruction of governments that threaten his definition of marriage or the role it plays in society.  He is on the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), one of the key groups opposing gay rights on a national level and a major player in the events of Proposition 8.

In light of all this, it makes sense that organizations, like Geeks Out, would call for boycotts of the Ender’s Game movie.  But I can’t help but wonder at the ethics of attempting to silence (or punish) an individual for his personal beliefs.  This isn’t the first time Card has come under fire for his stance on homosexuality.  Earlier this year he was essentially fired by DC Comics, who had tapped him to guest write a few issues of the Adventures of Superman book, when his assigned artist, Chris Sprouse, left the project.  Card’s issues were put on ‘indefinite hold’ and were ultimately replaced with new stories written by Jeff Parker.

Now, I can’t really object to DC’s final decision on this matter.  If Card, or even just the idea of Card, was driving away artists, there really wasn’t any other choice but to fire him.  But the underlying motivations of activist groups and comic book fans in this case are a little suspect.

Steven Lloyd Wilson, a writer and contributor to the website Pajiba.com, wrote an article supporting DC’s decision to drop Card from the Adventures of Superman.  He argued that the Card didn’t have the moral authority to write for a character that so embodied the concepts of ‘Truth, Justice and the American Way,’ because he stands in such opposition to those tenants through his rejection of and hostility towards democracy.  The problem with this argument is that it undermines our democratic values as much as it supports them.

Democracy is the politics of opposition.  The purpose of any democratic system, be it representative, pure or theoretical, is the give a voice to the people.  Like it or not, everyone has the right to voice their opinions and that includes organizations and individuals who oppose the rights of the LGBTQ community.  I write this as an openly gay man who has a vested interest in gaining those very rights.  Regardless of that personal desire, I have an ethical obligation to hear dissenting arguments and opinions.  I don’t have to agree with them, I don’t have to vote for them, and I don’t have to like them, but I do have to hear them.  Then I can either oppose them with arguments and opinions of my own, or ignore them and refuse to recognize them as valid.  I do not have a right to silence them or to threaten their proponents.

Orson Scott Card lecturing at Southern Virginia University

Mr. Card recently responded to the threats of a boycott with the following blurb:

 With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot.  The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

This statement, while hypocritically calling for something that Card himself isn’t willing to offer, maps out a proper ‘progressive’ response.  As advocates of tolerance, we have a responsibility to be tolerant of the beliefs of those who disagree with us.  Anything less would be the same hypocrisy that Card is guilty of.

Are we so eager to quash dissenting opinion that we would seek to quash creativity right along with it?  The logical extension of this path of reasoning leads to a bizarre progressive version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, where the books of writers like Orson Scott Card and H.P. Lovecraft who espoused conservative or intolerant ideals would be censored, not for their content, but for the beliefs of their authors.

At the same time, a boycott is a time-honored protest action that enables a group to make its voice heard.  I cannot honestly say that boycotting Ender’s Game in an attempt to voice distaste for Mr. Card’s beliefs isn’t an ethical action.  But it also isn’t right to judge a work of art solely on the beliefs of its creator.  People have been enjoying the story of Ender for years.  I read the book when I was 12 or 13 without knowing anything about Card’s beliefs or caring. Does that make me an unknowing accomplice to intolerance?  I also enjoy the works of H.P. Lovecraft.  Am I therefore a racist?

These questions are an example of a psychological concept known as the fundamental attribution error.  Fundamental attribution error or correspondence bias is one of the key factors in the formation of stereotypes and plays a large role in discriminatory behavior.  It occurs when individuals incorrectly assume that actions taken by others are more indicative of personal beliefs or inbound traits than they are of environmental or situational factors.  Boycotting a movie because of an author’s beliefs is an example of applying the fundamental attribution error turned inward: a belief that viewing a piece of art is a tacit approval of the beliefs of the creator.  This logic is false because the experience of art is determined by the viewing individual, not community opinion or the creator.

Art, literary, visual or otherwise, is necessarily removed from its creator by our individual experience of it and by time.  Just as we overlook H.P. Lovecraft’s vitriolic distaste for mixed-race couples because his works are good and worthy of artistic appreciation, we should be able to ignore Card’s beliefs because Ender’s Game is a good and worthy story that ultimately contains one of the most touching examples of empathy that exists in the genre of science fiction.  If Card had inserted his beliefs into his novels, we might be having a different conversation, but he didn’t.  He wrote a story that became a classic, and that doesn’t happen unless it resonates with us.

So go see Ender’s GameOr don’t.  But make that choice because of the movie’s casting, or because Gavin Hood was responsible for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, or one of a hundred other reasons.  At the very least, remember that a movie isn’t made by a single person, but by a collaboration of writers, designers, directors and producers.  Any one of those people could be a saint or a sinner, and it wouldn’t affect you, or the world, one iota.

Forrest Sayrs is a high school speech & debate coach with an unhealthy love of contrarian arguments.  When not being trounced by his students, he spends his free time reading and reviewing books.  You can see more of his writing at deconcrit.wordpress.com

TOP 5 Asian American Comic Book Heroes In The Mainstream

May and the official Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month are coming to a close, but we can continue celebrating Asian American culture year-round and we can do it all geeky like with some on-going comics featuring Asian American & Pacific Islander heroes!

Non-stereotyped or side-kick-ed Asian/ Asian American heroes are a rare thing in comics history and present, but right now there are two major ongoing series with leading AA heroes – the slicing and dicing Japanese transplant Katana in her own self-titled series Katana (DC Comics) by Ann Nocenti and Alex Sanchez and the crime-fighting cibopath Tony Chu in Chew (Image) by John Layman and Rob Guillory. 

Tony Chu – Chew

Tony Chu in Chew

If you’re not already reading Chew, go pick up volume 1 now. It’s amazing. The storytelling, the art, Tony Chu… Often disgusting, usually hilarious, always incredibly imaginative, Chew is one of my favorite comics four years running. John Laymanhas created a world where birdflu ran rampant killing millions of Americans and turning the FDA into one of the most powerful agencies in the country. And that’s where Philadelphia police detective Tony Chu’s story starts off. A scrawny sickly looking guy, Tony Chu is a cibopath, meaning he can get psychic visions from anything he eats.  Anything. Yep, just imagine all the potential for gross. But beyond the disgusting, Chu is stone-cold cop with a wacky ability in an absurd world, and he isn’t the only one with “special” talents…

Continue Reading at UnleashTheFanboy.com

An Outsider Review of “Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines”

It’s not news that women tend to be mis- and under- represented in comics. They’re too naked, they’re drawn according to the impossible proportions of adolescent male fantasy, they’re rarely lead characters…  The list goes on.

(WONDER WOMEN! The Untold Story of American Superheroines from Vaquera Films on Vimeo.)

The ways that women are portrayed in comics has been historically problematic and the documentary  Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines addresses these issues through the story of comics’ most iconic female superhero — Wonder Woman. But more than a slap on the wrist of the comics industry, the film looks at Wonder Woman’s impact on generations of women and comics fans, making the case for why we need more female superheroes… empowered ones… in lead roles.

Moving stories from fans about how this flag-sporting superheroine inspired them are paired with intriguing commentary on how Wonder Woman has evolved alongside the changing roles of women in the U.S., from the 50’s housewives, to the working women during World War II’s, to the women’s liberation movement of the 70’s, to the near-oblivion the character today.

Wonder Woman beasting without her powers

In just an hour, the film covers a good deal of Wonder Woman’s history, from her revolutionary debut on the comics scene to the post-WWII years when she lost her powers and began working at a boutique shop. In addition to everyday fans and scholars, an impressive cast of famous Wonder Woman admirers spoke about their experiences with the character, including Lynda Carter, the actress who played Wonder Woman in the original television series in the 70’s (fun fact: she’s also voiced several female characters in The Elder Scrolls games…), and famous feminist Gloria Steinem, who recounts how the decision to use Wonder Woman as a icon for the then new feminist magazine Ms. became a campaign to restore Wonder Woman’s powers and return her to her former superhero glory.

Steinem’s campaign was successful. DC Comics scrapped the remaining scripts in the powerless Wonder Woman story arc, restored her powers and costume, and, Steinem adds, they even gave her a Black sister.

The re-empowerment of Wonder Woman came at the same time that women, Black and white, around the U.S. were fighting for their own empowerment. And through the story of one young woman Katie Pineda, the film indicates that Wonder Woman is still a relevant and important role model for the empowerment of young women today. This is the core of the film’s message — Wonder Woman isn’t just a comic book character, she’s an icon for women’s empowerment.

Steinem’s campaign and the re-powering of Wonder Woman is one of the most fascinating stories in the film. In fact, the film doesn’t get into the whole story, which is even more interesting….

Samuel R. Delany reading at The Kitchen for an event for Volume 2 of the Encyclopedia Project (photo byAlex Lozupone)
Samuel R. Delany reading at The Kitchen for an event for Volume 2 of the Encyclopedia Project (photo byAlex Lozupone)

At the time of Steinem’s campaign science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany, known for his work’s commentary on race, sexuality and social issues, had been slated to write a new Wonder Woman arc. He had plans to write a story about Wonder Woman, who even in her de-powered state was still fighting crime, where she would be defending an abortion clinic against a group of radical pro-lifers. Delany had plans for several other stories addressing feminist issues.  However, these stories were never published, as the publisher pulled Delany from comic in order to pursue the re-powered story line that Steinem and company were demanding.  So, ironically, Steinem’s campaign was used to cancel a radical feminist story arc by one of the best geeky writers. Womp.

And the interview with Steinem is still more interesting, as she made a brief mention of Wonder Woman’s Black sister…Nubia (later Nu’Bia), who is quickly glossed over in the documentary. And rightly so since Nubia is more of a quirky fact in Wonder Woman history than an actual substantial character, not to mention her plot-lines were often stereotyped, ridiculous, or absurdly limited.

Nubia, Wonder Woman’s Black sister

Though her inclusion in the film is brief, it is evident that the character of Nubia was created to reflect not only the racial equality changes of that decade, but also the women’s liberation movement’s efforts to be racially inclusive. The attempt with Nubia was pretty flawed.  Nubia may not have made for the best material for this documentary, but the brief mention certainly sparks an interest and draws attention to the question of women of color  in comics.

Storm and Uhura are noted in the film, but for the most part superheroines of color are somewhat underrepresented here. For one example, in the film’s discussion of strong female heroes in movies, the  notable number of ass-kicking Black women characters in 70’s Blaxploitation films, like Coffy and Foxey Brown would have been an interesting inclusion.

In the end the film calls for a resurgence of the Wonder Woman character, and indeed it would be long-overdue  great news to see a Wonder Woman movie or a new TV series. In fact, over the years fans have been teased with rumors of some writer or other supposedly working on a movie or TV show (there was even a pilot filmed at one point), but those hopes have been repeatedly disappointed.

Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel (2011)
Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel (2011)

It’s a shame that the most iconic female superhero does not enjoy the franchise that other classic superheroes like Iron Man or Thor do. However, there are many more leading and empowered superheroines in comics today than ever before (many of them even wear pants!), and many of them are busting up old problematic models of women in comics. In such a scene, one can’t help but wonder if Wonder Woman’s lower profile is because her lasso of truth and bullet proof cuffs are a bit dated and have a hard time competing with flying, energy blasters like Captain Marvel or tech titans like Batwoman.

The film discusses at least two of the other superheroines on the scene, Ms. Marvel and Bionic Woman, but primarily in their historical roles.  These two characters are still around and thriving.  Recently Ms. Marvel dropped her “Ms.” and her skimpy outfit and is now a pants-sporting lead of her own title as Captain Marvel. Bionic Woman has a smaller audience, but is currently leading two title comics Bionic Woman and Bionic Man vs. Bionic Woman. Even Wonder Woman herself got a stellar reboot by Brian Azzarellowhich is still ongoing and has been both praised and criticized for it’s notable changes to Wonder Woman’s story and persona.

Fearless Defenders #2 by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney
Fearless Defenders #2 by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney

 Other awesome superheroines, like Batwoman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Katana, Glory, She Hulk, Ghost and others are clothed and kicking butt in their own title comics today. Other superheroines are even fighting in all-female teams, like Fearless Defenders’ Dani Moonstar, Valkyrie, and Misty Knight,  and Brian Wood’s forthcoming X-menan all-female team including Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pride, Pyslocke, and Jubilee (all wearing pants!).

Wonder Women is at its most interesting when it points to how the development of Wonder Woman’s story over the decades reflects and comments on the evolution of women’s rights and roles throughout American history.  The stories of those whose lives have been touched by this dynamic icon are truly moving.  However, the film is short and jam-packed, such that there is little treatment of other leading women in comics (specifically comics, since there was a chunk of time given to strong women characters in film), which was a small disappointment as the title seemed to promise a larger, more diverse cast of comics’ wonder women, plural. Nonetheless, it is an incredibly interesting addition to the dialogue about women in comics, full of real-world wonder women and wonder geeks!

And the film’s crew isn’t done talking about it either.  In addition to an active Twitter account, boasting all sorts of lady geekery, on May 1st they’ll be debuting a companion game called Wonder City to draw attention to mis- and under- representation of girls in games and the lack of games for girls that don’t center around stereotypically “girly” things like dating and cooking… Check it out: http://wonderwomendoc.com/game/

Superheroes in Defense of Love: Same-Sex Marriage and LGBTQ Characters in Comics

You may kiss the groom!  Northstar and Kyle Jinadu get married in Astonishing X-men #51
You may kiss the groom! Northstar and Kyle Jinadu get married in Astonishing X-men #51

Many argue that politics don’t belong in comics. I hear those arguments. I even understand them. But, obviously I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. On the contrary, I think comics are a perfect medium for political reflection. Fiction and literature have a long history of social critique and reflection, using story to show society its reflection – its progress, its missteps, its blind spots… And comics (comics are literature too), as a serialized medium, are unique in their ability to keep up with the times, to keep that reflection current.

So, today being an important day, one that will forever alter the face of American society when the U.S Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, let’s take a look at how comics have kept up with the times…

Northstar and Kyle Jinadu get married!

One of the biggest moment in gay rights in comics occurred just last year, when X-men member Northstar (aka Jean-Paul Beaubier) proposed to his long-time boyfriend Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-men #50. In issue #51, Kyle and Jean-Paul became Marvel’s first gay married couple at a beautiful ceremony in New York’s Central Park.

The couple also claims the distinction of being one of few married couples at all, as well as being a mixed-race couple and a mixed  super-powered–no-powered couple to boot! The marriage issue was a huge hit among comics readers, but it wasn’t all celebration, at least not in the Marvel universe. The issue made sure to depict that this is a fraught issue, and while Kyle and Jean-Paul had a beautiful ceremony with the support of many of their super-powered friends, the idea didn’t sit well with everyone. A keen acknowledgment that the human tensions around the issue don’t go away with a change in law.

kyle northstar wedding

Same-sex marriage became legal in New York in July 2011, so Kyle and Jean-Paul’s wedding, taking place in May 2012, was no hopeful fantasy land wish. in the real world, a same-sex New York wedding was already a precedent. In comics anything is possible – Asgardian gods descending from the sky to mingle among us, alien invasions, wealthy, technologically superior African nations led by Panther kings, wealthy entrepreneurs who become technology-enhanced superheroes… But I suppose, sometimes, it’s the real world that beats fantasy to the punch. On that note, the happy couple are still face some very real world issues, with Northstar, who is French-Canadian, facing possible deportation because his same-sex marriage is not (hopefully soon was not) acknowledged in national law…

Kevin Keller and Clay Walker get married in Life With Archie #16
Kevin Keller and Clay Walker get married in Life With Archie #16

Northstar wasn’t the only comic book character that got in on the action. Archie Comics was actually a bit ahead of the game. In January 2012, on the tail of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and months before the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, Kevin Keller, an openly gay active U.S. Military Officer in Archie Comics married his partner Clay Walker in the all-American town of Riverdale, NY. This was also a mixed-race couple (I wonder if there’s gonna continue to be a trend here…).

While same-sex marriage has only recently hit the scene in comics, openly gay comic book characters are much more common!  This includes DC Comics‘ own Batwoman, who is probably the most high-profile openly gay comic book character. She recently proposed to her girlfriend. Wonder if she’ll be getting hitched anytime soon…  DC also pulled a pretty controversial move, around the same time that Archie and Marvel were stirring things up, when the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott came out with DC’s New 52 relaunch. One Million Moms threw a foe-ful fit, of course.  Unfortunately, DC faced the other side of the battle, when they hired anti-gay-marriage writer Orson Scott Card as a writer for a digital comic Adventures of Superman. 

Willow: Wonderland #3
Willow: Wonderland #3

Gay characters in comics are hardly new. Many awesome creators had their eyes open from the jump and saw that LGBTQ folk have always been here and queer. Though she started off on television, lesbian superwiccan Willow of Joss Whedon‘s original tv series Buffynow headlines her own comic Willow: Wonderland which is in it’s 5th issue. It’s also seriously awesome and you should all go pick up the trade whenever it’s out.

There are quite a few other LGBTQ characters hanging around the margins of comics. Get a brief on a few of them in this great slide show at The Week.

And speaking of the margins, there are some creators addressing love and sex in interesting and strange ways under the radar. One of the most jarring I’ve found is Our Love is Real by Sam Humphries and  Steven Sanders (Image comics), which came out in 2011, with much love from industry insiders. It’s not LGBTQ exactly, but rather depicts a world where the bounds of who or what one can love are seriously blurred and open, including some who have love affairs with minerals. Clearly there’s some symbolism and commentary in there…

Gay characters and LGBTQ topics have had some presence in comics, and that representation is increasing as we become a more open society. Still it’s a pretty sad reflection that even in the fantastical worlds that the “low brow” medium of comics create, the idea of a magical green-glowing ring that grant limitless universal powers to its wearer is more fantastical than a ring that lets two members of the same-sex the simple right of legal recognition… That space habitation, intergalactic wars, and giant red crime-fighting demons have long had a place in supreme unreality, but gay marriage was a far stretch of the imagination…

Makes you wonder where else the notion of resolving some injustice is so crazy a notion that we can’t even imagine it in our most imaginative mediums… We could probably make up a whole genre of social fiction from historical examples alone.

With the Supreme Court’s ruling out this summer, here’s hoping gay marriage rights for all doesn’t remain a fiction.

Batwoman proposes
Batwoman proposes