I think that all superheroes should be queer by default. I can’t imagine being a superhero with unique abilities and being attracted to one gender. That sounds so boring. I mean, think about it. If you could throw planets or lift buildings with your bare hands, why would you limit yourself to one gender? Hell, why limit yourself to one species?
Don’t get me wrong, I feel the same about aliens and gods, too. It feels like making characters straight as a default does them a disservice. It’s also one of the reasons I am reading more manga these days. Manga doesn’t feel as limited as most American comics. With manga, I can find almost anything I am in the mood for. But with American comics, it often feels that some publishers are reluctant to push mainstream queer characters who are in queer relationships on-page and not as a plot device. As a viewer and fan, you can always tell which character feels more developed than others. Right now, my favorite comic book show with LGBTQ+ representation is HBO Max’s Harley Quinn. It’s funny, it’s gay, it’s violent, and you get a few life lessons along the way. But this should be the standard of LGBTQ+ comic book characters across the board, not in just some cases.
LGBTQ+ Comic Books Characters On TV
We all get so excited to see LGBTQ+ comic book characters make it to screen but when they are underdeveloped it’s frustrating. For instance, Xena: Warrior Princess is often praised as a lesbian superhero, but when it aired, it was only implied at the most. Granted, it was on air in the late ‘90s, but the television executives did not want to show anything that would suggest there are WLW (woman-loving woman), according to Newsweek. However, if you still have doubts about Xena’s sexuality you can also read Vita Ayala’s run of Xena for visual confirmation.
Then there is Toni Topaz from The CW’s Riverdale. If you are a fan of Archie Comics, you might be familiar with the pink-haired bad girl who does whatever she wants, when she wants. On Riverdale, she’s dating Cheryl Blossom. However, on the show, her character lacked any real development until Vanessa Morgan, the actress who plays Toni, took to Twitter to express her disdain about how her character was being written, as reported by Vulture.
Amazon’s Invincible has a character named William Clockwell who is a teen that is out and proud. He is best friends with Mark Grayson who is not queer. I think the importance of showing that contrast is to normalize straight men having healthy, platonic friendships with gay men. Mark trusts William and he always tells his friend the truth.
Overall, mainstream comics tends to prioritize cis, hetero men.
Indie LGBTQ+ Comic Book Characters
Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Not only is Saga one of the best comics of all time, the characters just stay with you in your mind and heart. Petrichor is a warrior and has served in the army for years. She was in the shower when a young Hazel walked in on her and saw she was visibly intersex. I appreciate that Petrichor wasn’t disrespected or forced to endure phobias from those close to her. She’s iconic because not only is she a kickass fighter but she’s beautiful and has a good moral compass.
MPLS Sound by by Hannibal Tabu, Joseph Phillip Illidge, and Meredith Laxton
Theresa wants to start a band and she has enough drive to get it done. In MPLS Sound, she is the boss and she has the last say. Nothing is bigger than her dream, not even The Purple One. Theresa has a specific vision for her and her band and even a superstar such as Prince can’t change her mind. She has an on-page romance and things get hectic, but she maintains her position all the way to the end.
CREMA (comiXology Originals) by Johnnie Christmas and Dante Luiz
A beautiful ghost story that involves coffee and ghosts. Esme can see ghosts when she’s wired off coffee, which is often because she works as a barista. Esme is instructed by a ghost to travel to Brazil so he can return to a haunted coffee farm. Yara is Esme’s love interest, and even though the ghosts can be spooky, it’s the moments of love Esme and Yara share that takes the cake.
Marvel LGBTQ+ Characters
Black Panther: World of Wakanda By Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Yona Harvey, Rembert Browne, Alitha Martinez, Afua Richardson, Joe Bennett
I was thrilled to read this version of the Dora Milaje because I didn’t like the previous ways they were depicted. Roxane Gay gives new life to Marvel’s deadliest warriors by creating a sapphic romance between Ayo and Aneka. The women love Wakanda, but watching them determine if they love each other more than their duties is a ride that is relatable.
DEADPOOL’S SECRET SECRET WARS #3 by Matteo Lolli, Jacopo Camagni, Cullen Bunn
Rumor has it that the next Deadpool movie will showcase the character’s sexuality more. In the comics, Deadpool flirts with everybody. In the movies he’s only been with women, and some fans, including myself, want to see a more romantically expressive Deadpool. While his sexuality is used as a comedic relief in some instances, we would still like to see him love another man on-screen.
Loki: Agent of Asgard Volume 1: Trust Me by Al Ewing, Lee Garbett, Jenny Frison
With the new hit show on Disney+, Loki is confirmed to be genderfluid and pansexual. If you haven’t been keeping up with the show, he confirms it in passing in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. Again, I believe gods should be queer and Loki doesn’t disappoint.
DC Comics LGBTQ+ Characters
Poison Ivy: Thorns by Kody Keplinger and Sara Kipin
This graphic novel is a grim coming-of-age origin story about DC’s deadliest villain, Poison Ivy. While this particular story follows a young Poison Ivy in high school, it is a journey to watch her come into her own identity. Poison Ivy has always had a slight misandry flair about her, even in the animated shows, which are entertaining. Her evolving relationship with Harley Quinn is fun to watch.
Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 3 by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette
In my heart, Wonder Woman is a lesbian no question asked, but somehow the DCEU doesn’t want her to have relationships with women on-screen. I can’t lie and say I am not irked with Wonder Woman falling in love with a man in the movies and never having the opportunity to fall in love with women on-screen. There are runs where Wonder Woman has women as lovers, and in the Nubia graphic novel, Wonder Woman’s twin Nubia’s parents are two women.
DC Comics: Bombshells Vol. 4: Queens by Marguerite Bennett
I continue to talk about the Harley Quinn animated show because it’s so perfect. Now that Harley and Poison Ivy have finally shared a kiss on-page, it’s time to turn up the heat and get into more WLW adventures in the comics. Bleeding Cool reported that Bingo Love‘s Tee Franklin announced she’s writing a Harley Quinn run that will be in stores this fall. Her run will center Harley and Poison Ivy being married.