Tag Archives: Gay Comics


Last week, the seven most MISGUIDED attempts at Gay Characters in comics.  This week:  The Seven Best Gay Characters in Comics –   Because the glass is half full, and I know how to swirl it around.

Who am I to make such a list?  What are my credentials?
I’ve read more comics than you have – (Unless you’re Mark Waid, and then I’m sorry for being presumptuous, my superior master) –  And because I have a blog and you don’t.   I found this one on the street near my friend Kevin’s house, and now it’s mine , so no one can stop me.


7) Wiccan

(BILLY KAPLAN) – (and his boyfriend Hulkling (TED ALTMAN)

Can you guess which one's called "Hulkling" and which one's "Wiccan"?

Wiccan is part of a Mighty Marvel Royal Family.

Kissing cousin to damn near everyone.

He is (more or less) the son of mutant Wanda Maximov (the Scarlet Witch), making him the grandson of Magneto (X-Men bad guy), nephew to Quicksilver (X-Men/Avenger asshole), twin brother of SPEED (Young Avengers teen), and step-son (?) to the Silver Age Vision, who used to be the golden age Human Torch –  also Wiccan is first cousin to Luna, daughter or Crystal, who was the ex-girlfriend of the CURRENT Human Torch, which makes Billy Kaplan part of the extended families of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Avengers – requiring every Marvel hero but Daredevil to let him crash on the couch for two days, unannounced.

And Wiccan’s boyfriend, Hulkling, is the son of Captain Mar-vell and a Skrull Princess named Analee.  So he’s an Avengers brat too.

Young Avengers Presents #3

It’s often said that there’s someone gay in every extended family in America (whether you know it or not) and Marvel finally acknowledged it with one of the main families of the Marvel U.

But what really lands BILLY on the list are these scenes from YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS  Issue #3…. Wiccan has spent the issue with his brother, trying to find his missing, presumed dead mom, the Scarlet Witch, and along the way, they’re told she’s not going to be found, and handed this piece of advice….

-and when he’s home later, with Hulkling, he realizes how wonderful THAT moment with his boyfriend is…

Notice, the gay boyfriend isn’t a temptation to deny, or a problem to solve, or a secret to hide from his family – the boyfriend is a magical blessing in Wiccan’s life.  There’s yer hopeful ending, right there, and it comes from someone in the family… the “Dick Cheney’s daughter” of the Marvel Universe, if I may use a metaphor bluntly and badly.

6)  Batwoman


Pretty. pretty...

After the first few Batwoman issues of Detective I found I liked the comic, but didn’t love the protagonist.  It was BEAUTIFULLY illustrated by J.H. Williams III, over an action -packed Greg Rucka plot about a weird Alice in Wonderland cult -all entertaining as hell — but I hadn’t had that “moment” where I was won over by Batwoman, (or Kate Kane), as a character in her own right.  There was much butt kicking and leaping, but ALL the bat-gang do that.

But then, we came to this scene in Detective 856, where Ms. Kane arrives at a charity function dressed in a formal tuxedo, rocking a post-goth, post-Patrick Nagel thing, and strutting like it was her palace.

Her confidence in facing down disapproving relatives and openly flirtatious police captains, won me over but good.
I love her body language, her dialog, that touch of arrogance, all while working clues to a super-crime in her head.  Dare I say it, it reminded me of Bruce Wayne – in a way that Dick Grayson, Tim Drake or Barbara Gordon never did – the way Kate just OWNED that room and the story.

So as of ‘Tec 856, Kate Kane had “it” for me.
As the next few issues followed, and we learned of Kate’s bizarre back story, her brutal family tragedy, her “honorable” discharge from the Army, and her wonderful, complex relationship with her father, this comic became the surprise hit of the year for me.  More of this, thanks!
And oh, yeah.  She’s gay.  Just part of the overall weave, my friends.

5) Mark Slackmeyer

From Doonesbury.

Mark is one of the four founding characters of one of the five best comic strips of the 20th Century  (Pogo, Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts and L’il Abner are the other four) and DECADES into Mark’s story in the strip, he turns out to be gay.  It seemed a little forced when the idea first arrived, but I never should have doubted Mr. Garry Trudeau, Lord of the Doonesbury.  In fairly short order, Megaphone Mark, the ultra liberal student radical turned NPR radio host settles down with a man who is his opposite in nearly every way – a log cabin Republican, conservative money-pusher named Chase Talbot III (who is the embodiment of Mark’s much hated, ultra-conservative father) and they become a bickering married couple on the radio.  BRILLIANT comics, great satire and very real human comedy for anyone with a passing recognition of the Oedipal Complex or the tropes of 70s family sitcoms.

And yet, they're in love.

Mark and Chase are separated now, but their time together was a high water mark in what is still the best comic strip running in  American papers.

4)  Midnighter

-(and his lovely husband, Apollo)
From the ultra right wing, ultra violent Wildstorm series, STORMWATCH, comes the most militant homosexual “super-hero” in history.
What’s not to LOVE about Midnighter?  He’s Gay Batman, for god’s sake.  PLUS he’s got a special instant super-healing power, and a murderous temper which makes him gay Wolverine-Batman.  Which is really gay Dark

Like this guy...only attracted to men, see?

Claw, and that’s the whole enchilada right there.  Gay Dark Claw. Dark Claw, only gay.  And his boyfriend is essentially gay Superman, only  named Apollo.  It makes me wish I was gay, so I could love Midnighter even more.

What started off as a Warren Ellis one-joke about a long believed super-hero subtext, became an actually interesting pair of characters over the next few years of Stormwatch, and then, AUTHORITY.   Midnighter and Apollo were a little more bloodthirsty than you expected, more fiercely loyal to each other than you expected, and more physically affectionate with each other than any other gay characters in comics were at the time, but they were written with wit and cleverness, even if the dialog tended towards sneering British ‘tude, And they were a genuine couple, in love and committed to each other, even adopting a child together.  (A reincarnation of a teammate, but let’s not go THERE).

They really do kiss a lot, these two...when they're not slaughtering super-villains.

When MIDNIGHTER launched in his own monthly series, the first couple of story lines included one of the BEST time travel adventures ever, and some of the best done-in-one comic tales being published.
He’s Gay Dark Claw.  Does this need to be explained again?

3) Lawrence Poirier


Coming out to your family or friends was a dangerous thing to do in 1993.  Lynn Johnson, creator of FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, discovered it was a dangerous thing to do on the comics pages of your local newspaper.

When Michael Patterson’s life long friend Lawrence told Michael he was gay, Lynn Johnson received countless hate letters and death threats from around the world….just for showing the comic strip pages that a gay person simply existed.  Over one hundred newspapers in the United States dropped her very popular comic strip until the offendingly gay Lawrence was out of the spotlight … And the intolerance wasn’t just in the real world for this poor teen –  As his fictional story continued, Lawrence told his stepfather he’d met a college boy and fallen in love, and that bit of honesty got Lawrence thrown out of his house.

Now, in the middle of all that abuse and hatred, Lawrence does something remarkable:   He remains polite.  He rages very little, he tells Michael how much he appreciates his friend’s support, and quietly waits for the rest of the world to realize how badly they’re behaving towards him.  He makes this an epic story of dignity in the middle of intolerable behavior from damn near everyone else.  All from a small, slightly terrified 17 year old boy.

THAT’s a Super-hero in my book.

2)  Toland Polk

Stuck Rubber Baby
Toland Polk is a fictionalized character, very loosely based on the early life of writer/ artist  HOWARD CRUSE, one of comics’ more notably “out” underground cartoonists of the 70s and 80s.  The 1995 graphic novel STUCK RUBBER BABY is a dense narrative about Toland’s early adulthood, living in the American South in the 1960s, and slowly discovering that he’s slightly racist, and very gay, and that he can only learn to stop being ONE of those things.
One of the best novels I’ve ever read about growing up.  It won the Harvey and the Eisner for best Graphic Novel in 95, as well as a bunch of other best thing-on-Earth awards that year.  Stuck Rubber Baby, stands with Maus, Barefoot Gen or Contract with God, as a rare comic life story that NEVER leaves you.  By the time it’s over, Toland Polk is one of your favorite people.

1) Esperanza “Hopey” Glass.


Teen Hopey, mind you.

Ahh….Love and Rockets – the 80s comic book you could give your date, and she would “get it”.  QUICK HISTORY LESSON: Fangirls started hanging around comic shops because of Jaime Hernandez’ “LOCAS” series in Love and Rockets, long before Sandman was a gleam in VERTIGO’s creepy eye.

Though it started as the sci-fi story of two giggling, pro-solar mechanics named Maggie and Hopey (and Maggie’s major crush, RAND RACE), the series, LOCAS, quickly became about two unemployed EX-pro-solar mechanics/ slackers who hang around the LA Hispanic 80s Punk Rock / Wrestling world, falling in and out of trouble (and love) while picking up an ASTOUNDINGLY complex and interesting supporting cast.
What holds the series together, is that EVERYBODY loves the adorable lead character, Maggie Chascarrillo —

Ray loves Maggie.  Speedy loved Maggie.  Penny loves Maggie.  Izzy loves Maggie, and the readers love Maggie, but MOST of all, HOPEY loves Maggie.

Hopey really, really loves her.  It makes Hopey’s jackboot-wearing street-cynic party-girl butch-punk lesbian heart melt every time she’s in a room with Mags, and Maggie loves Hopey right back, except Mags couldn’t give up men forever, even for Hopey….which is the basis for much of the drama in the first decade of their relationship.

We’ve all watched Hopey’s heart break a few times, and along the way, I think we all fell in love with the abrasive little bitch who couldn’t play the bass worth a damn.  She was annoyingly human, after all.

Jamie's not mean to Hopey...she gets to kiss Mags every now and then.

The stunning artwork by author/artist  Jamie Hernandez didn’t hurt the reader’s enjoyment of the series either.


I didn’t write about Anole, or Graymalkin, or any of the gay X-Men, because I confess I rarely read X-Men books (there’s simply too many), and I’m not familiar with their stories, sorry.  Krazy Kat was strongly considered, but Kat went from being male to female so regularly, that Ignatz may have been bisexual, instead of gay, without knowing it, and who needs that confusion?  There was simply no room for Bitchy Butch (Roberta Gregory’s wonderfully awful dyke character from Naughty Bits), or Element Lad, or Constantine, or any from the legion of lesbian detectives, wonderful characters all.

-And finally…

Get yer mind out of the gutter right now, soldier!

… I never brought up Peppermint Patty and Marcie because they aren’t lesbians, all right?  Get over it people.  They both had a crush on “Chuck”, and ONLY Chuck, never each other… and you can’t tell a person’s orientation simply because of how they wear pants.  Marcie didn’t even LIKE softball.  Good GRIEF! Don’t be such a hater.


Here now, your comic book moment of zen:


A recent spate of internet chatter involving something Darwyn Cooke said about making Batwoman gay got me thinking about homosexual comic characters in general.   Cooke was worried that DC was being exploitative of Batwoman’s lesbianism, rather than sensitive and intelligent about it –  something he’s concluded without reading the actual Detective Comic series, I’ll wager, or he’d know it’s being done quite well.  But I’ll give Darwyn the benefit of the doubt, as the pre-release Batwoman hype seemed more aimed at titillation than acceptance, and it’s not like comics haven’t had an appalling track record when creating gay characters.

You can just see the tolerance and acceptance in this image.

LGBT people were routinely played as odd, creepy or predatory in our biz, if they were even mentioned at all…check out Jim Shooter’s infamous Bruce-Banner-Nearly-Raped-in-the-Shower scene in the Rampaging Hulk to get a typical view of the subject from the Seventies.

And if they weren’t sinful weirdoes, they ended up dead from AIDS or being killed off-panel unceremoniously, because, well… no one will miss them.  Count how many X-Men have come out over the years, and now count up how many of them are dead.  The numbers don’t add up well.

Even when strong, positive gay characters showed up, there was still something “off” about ‘em.  Spider-Man’s cop friend Jean DeWolff was brusque and unpleasant (and has since been killed off). The Flash’s gay pal, Pied Piper, (written excellently by Mark Waid) was an evil Rogue named after a character who lured young children away from their parents by blowing on something.  (Flash Rogues with more problematic names if they’d popped out of the closet:   “the Top”, “the Rainbow Raider” and “the Golden Glider”.…)

It’s been a long road to get to where Batwoman, Midnighter, Rene Montoya, Apollo, Anole, Obsidian, and John Constantine can be out and still be decent characters with more or less regular lives, and who are not portrayed as creepy, or bad or sinful.  Well, except for Constantine, but that’s how we like him.  Along that road, there have been bumps and mistakes — Attempts to be inclusive that ended up making LGBT folk seem odder to mainstream readers.  And of course,  wherever there is awful comics…I’ll be there to share them with you….

Here now–


7)  Sebastian O

Created by writer Grant Morrison in 1993.  (Grant shows up again later in this list so keep an eye peeled).  I believe he’s the first gay character to have his own comic series from a mainstream American publisher (Vertigo), if you don’t count characters ret-conned into their GBLT status (such as DC’s Shade the Changing Man/Woman).

Sebastian O is set in a steampunk version of Victorian England, wherein Sebastian is more or less a revenge-killer version of Oscar Wilde, only more gay…Oh sure, his mission is to hunt down and slay someone who got him tossed unjustly into prison (mostly for writing a “sinful” book), but it’s hard to be on O’s side when he’s friends with an admitted (and unrepentant) child molester, and when he murders innocent people, and feeds their bodies to his cat if it suits his needs.  There’s too much overt pederasty through the story for it to be helpful to anyone’s understanding of a gay lifestyle, and I’m not sure a homicidal Wilde is even the best place to start…

It IS a gun in my pocket, but I'm still glad to see you.

Here’s the strange part:  The series is actually readable, and Mr. O is easily the least annoying character on this list.

6)  Tasmanian Devil

Because there are no bears in Australia.

Taz was the first openly homosexual member of the Justice League, and it sure made him into a household name in the world of comics, didn’t it?  After coming out, the Devil was continuously played as a background character (rarely with even a single line of dialog), who shows up to be beaten senseless during REALLY BIG crossover events, and that’s about it.  You can find him buried in rubble on page eight in any book with the word CRISIS in the title.  After his second class status in the Justice League went nowhere, he was relegated to the astoundingly forgettable GLOBAL GUARDIANS, where he did nothing there either.  Eventually he’s killed and turned into a throw rug by Prometheus in the recent miniseries, JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE.
It’s not like Taz was ever a good character to begin with, but if they were going to make him gay, for god’s sake, don’t make him SO F***ING LAME!

5)  Monsieur Mallah and the Brain.

Ah...l'amour. C'est fou! A talking gorilla and a disembodied jar of goo, in love.

Dateline: Early Doom Patrol.  The Brain (when he was a regular mad scientist with a body) did some mad science-y experiments on a regular mountain gorilla until the ape became a simian genius with the power to speak French, and the desire to do evil.  Then the scientist lost his body in some sort of science-y accident and ended up a brain in a jar.  You’d think that would make this pair weird enough…

But during Grant Morrison’s 80s run of the DOOM PATROL, the Brain was put into one of the spare robot bodies belonging to Doom Patrol member ROBOTMAN and the fun began.  As soon as he had arms and legs (and other body parts), Brain tells Mallah that he has been secretly in cross-species love with the furry beastie for years, but couldn’t confess it when he was just squishy lumps of tube stuff.   Mallah sends his bestial gay love right back at Brain, and they move in for the weirdest kiss in Western fiction… until … well, you’ll just have to read it to believe it…

…yup.  The Robotman body self destructs the moment the monkey plants a smacker on the android’s lips, as it simply can’t exist in a world that odd.  It sure brought home the idea that homosexuals are JUST like you and me.  A great leap forward for tolerance.

(NOTE:  The characters have since been revived and killed again, this time Mallah being beaten to death with Brain as the weapon.  They always die together, though…so it’s KINDA romantic.)

4) Freedom Ring:

Quick Quiz: Whose costume is more macho?

Though at first glance, the character of Curtis Doyle’s FREEDOM RING (first appearing in Robert Kirkman’s “Master of the Ring” 5 part story arc in Marvel Team-Up a few years back) seemed like a decent character to make into a gay-positive super-hero.  He’s well adjusted, intelligent and casually “out” about his lifestyle, when he acquires a bit of the Cosmic Cube in the form of a ring, and is ready to save the world as essentially Marvel’s version of a Green Lantern.

But then this happens.

It could have gone well, except Curtis is killed dead,  penetrated by many phallic looking “things” (tendrils, spikes?), shooting out from a bad guy’s body (another subtle one there, guys) exactly one month to the day after he was being promoted as Marvel’s new Gay Superhero by Joe Quesada in interviews.  The story in which he was killed had already been written and drawn when Quesada felt the need to do the media promotion thing.  It’s hard to believe they weren’t aware of the F*CK YOU involved when they quickly impale Freedom Ring dead, in one of the worst bait-and-switch messages since Bill Jemas’ MARVILLE was described as “readable”.   Author Kirkman now claims he “didn’t mean it” to be so bluntly homophobic, it just sort of turned out that way… 

3)  The Rawhide Kid

I hear guns can be metaphors for something.

Probably the worst dialog for any gay character in comics belongs to Rawhide Kid….perhaps for any straight character as well.

Ha ha! It's funny, see?

The “Kid” had been a Marvel Western mainstay since the late fifties, usually taking third place behind Kid Colt: Outlaw, and the Two-Gun Kid in popularity.  But, in 2003, editor Axel Alonzo and writer Ron Zimmerman took this somewhat outdated Atlas era gunfighter and made him into a prancing joke, supposedly to introduce more gay-positive characters into the Marvel world.  For a book about straight shootin’, it’s ironic how MUCH THEY MISSED THEIR TARGET.

And if he gets bored, he's scratch your eyes out.

The mini-series “RAWHIDE KID:  SLAP LEATHER” (beautifully drawn by the legendary John Severin) is an aimless generic plot (about saving a rancher  from evil land developers or something) that has no reason for existence, beyond fruity double entendres and an obsession with keeping one’s leather gear looking fabulous. It’s as though Zimmerman’s entire knowledge of homosexuality came from a screening of THE BIRDCAGE, and then he checked with a Westboro Baptist minister to ensure he was writing a script “faggy” enough to be absurdly hateful.

Guess what?  It was.

Hey folks. Do you get it? It's like it's a gun, or maybe it's a dick. It's all too subtle for me.

2)  Northstar

What DIDN’T Marvel handle badly about this character’s history?  Let us count the ways…

1) John Byrne created him to be Marvel’s first openly homosexual character, but the editors refused to let Northstar’s orientation be discussed for more than ten years- until issue #106 of ALPHA FLIGHTNorthstar had been gay since Alpha Flight #1.

The world of Canadian Superheroes gets all "real".

2)   A few years before he was officially “out”, he got a mysterious illness that was very AIDS-like, and he was only cured of it when…

3)  …It was revealed that he was actually a ….I swear to god….FAIRY. The kind with little fly wings, you know…like Tinkerbell?  Being part fairy gave him some sort of immunity in his blood or something, I don’t remember the details, only that I threw my copy across the room when I read it.

4)  Bless his heart, Northstar adopts a baby girl he finds in a dumpster, but the kid dies of AIDS before long.  AIDS and Fairies, folks, that’s what being gay in the Marvel Universe is all about.

5)   He’s never had a date, or a romantic moment in his entire publishing history so far as I know, and his orientation barely comes up in his own mini-series.  For Marvel’s first “gay” character, he’s sure not very gay.  But at least he’s currently alive (though Wolverine DID kill him once).  That’s fairly rare for olde-tyme homosexuals in the funny books…

Don't forget, he's a professional skier, so he goes "swish" whenever he goes down.

and finally…

1)  Extraño

Like a fine wine, this drawing only gets better with age.

Created by Steve Englehart and Joe Staton in the DC MILLENIUM mini-series of the late 80s, and later spun-off into THE NEW GUARDIANS super-hero team with fellow token character “Pieface”, the Inuit mechanic from Silver Age Green Lantern comics…(clearly the Spirit’s EBONY WHITE was busy.)
Extraño is the Spanish word for “strange” or “queer”, so you know you’re in for thoughtful writing from the get-go.  This caricature of a flaming queen was the first openly gay super-hero in DC history (and I think in comics generally), and boy-howdy was he a sensitive portrayal.  First there’s his whole “look”: a billowy purple cape, bling that would embarrass Flavor Flav, thigh-high leather pirate boots (rolled down), and a goofy mustache that would someday inspire Prince.  Oh, and he’s  constantly referring to himself as “Auntie”.  I think the editors were going for gay-positive but they clearly had no idea what that was.   I guess they figured a flamboyant, hair-obsessed Hispanic with magic powers would simply write itself.   He was kind of a Dr. Strange character that could levitate and do mystical shit, but that was never what he was about.  It was the gayness.  The gay clothes, the gay attitude, the ASTOUNDINGLY large blow-dried ‘do… Aaaand, of course, because he was, you know…GAY…, he’s trying to kill himself when we first meet him (stopped by the Flash) aaaand he eventually had to contract AIDS, which he got from a possibly-gay vampire called Hemo-Goblin.  Though after he got himself the AIDS, he never seemed to ever suffer from it in any way…and kind of forgot he had it.
I guess the suicide attempt was Englehart’s attempt at insight, but it came off as a patronizing cliché, even in the 80s.

This is the least flamboyant image I could find of this guy.

BONUS POINTS:  Since Extraño wasn’t just an collection of homosexual stereotypes, but also Hispanic stereotypes, they managed to knock down two minorities in one go.
Of course, readers got tired of this crap, and DC recently killed him in a big explosion that dropped most of a house on his ass.


The Seven BEST Gay characters in Comics…because the glass is finally half full.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your comic book moment of zen: