Beloved readers, this is my last article for The Collective this month, and in continuing my celebration of all things fandom and LGBTQA Pride, I’ve compiled a list (with special thanks to some awesome Twitter followers) of the most kick-ass LGBTQ+ couples in the comic verses.
It’s been a long, slow road to getting the LGBTQ+ community representation in comics that was more than subtext and not edited out of the finished product (as was the case for many characters). As a child, I probably couldn’t tell you the name of one gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender character, and now I’m having a difficult time narrowing down this list to less than ten (Iceman, Catwoman, Batwoman, Constantine, Northstar…etc.). This list was inspired by the immense popularity of #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend, and also because, for me, everything this month is about Pride.
Midnighter and Apollo (DC Comics)
Introduced in 1998, Midnighter and Apollo have often been hailed as characters that parallel Batman and Superman, but Midnighter is a bit more sociopathic, and both are a bit more foul-mouthed. Even more notable is that they were one of the first openly gay couples to exist in the DC Comics verse. Unlike other comic characters who came out after years in the closet, and many of their stories depicting struggling with their sexuality, Midnighter and Apollo’s sexualities were a part of their comic depictions from the beginning, eventually marrying and adopting a daughter together, making them a badass gay superhero couple with a family.
(And yes, I know all about what happened in the 2015 Midnighter solo comics and it is, as this blogger says, “a copout.” Midnight & Apollo 5ever.)
Hulkling and Wiccan (The Young Avengers, Marvel Comics)
I recently read that the character of Hulkling was originally planned to be depicted as a woman who shape-shifted into a man’s shape, but eventually the comic creators decided to say “f**k it” and created an established relationship between Hulkling and Wiccan when they first appeared in Young Avengers #1 in 2005. However, it isn’t until Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #9 that the couple share their first ‘onscreen’ kiss.
But, hey, they’re engaged now.
Shatterstar and Rictor (X-Factor, Marvel Comics)
This couple existed for a long time only in subtextual readings of the comics, but in 2009, the two superheroes shared the first same-sex kiss in a mainstream Marvel comic (X-Factor, vol. 3). Since then, Rictor has been depicted as an out gay man, and Shatterstar as bisexual. While Rictor and Shatterstar have had their tensions, the X-Factor series concluded with the two still very much attached to each other.
Xavin and Karolina Dean (Runaways, Marvel Comics)
A Skrull, Xavin is able to alter shape and form. So when Prince Xavin travelled to Earth to tell Karolina Dean that they had an arranged marriage, and Karolina politely refused, stating she had no interest in men. Not a problem for Xavin, who changes gender more easily than I can change my hair colour (that may be an exaggeration). Eventually, the two fall in love, but in the end, Xavin leaves Karolina behind in order to protect her. And yeah, it is tragic and romantic and very sad.
Mystique and Destiny (Marvel Comics)
This comic relationship, like Shatterstar and Rictor, lived entirely in the subtext for decades. Mystique (Raven Darkholme) and Destiny (Irene Adler) are said to have met when the former was acting as a private detective in the early 20th century (a casual homage to Arthur Conan Doyle), and their relationship spans decades, eventually raising the mutant Rogue as their foster daughter. It wasn’t until the past few years, however, that Marvel Comics confirmed Mystique’s bisexuality and her relationship with Destiny.
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (DC Comics)
Okay, I have a soft spot in my heart for Harley and Ivy since they are both 1) ridiculously smart (like doctorates and stuff) 2) criminally insane (probably) and 3) very, very complex. They’ve both survived abusive relationships with men, and when they finally meet, their relationship is as complicated as it is explosive. As their relationship deepens in the comics, both Ivy and Harley push each other toward breaking free of the hold of their previous relationships. Their friendship eventually blossoms into something else, as was confirmed by the comic writers in June 2015:
It was, undoubtedly, the happiest moment of my little Harley/Ivy shipper life. More recently, the two shared their first on-panel liplock in the DC Comics Bombshell series.
When I read that issue, I swooned.
So, happy Pride month, and may all your favs get their opportunity to ride/walk/fly into the sunset.
There are, of course, more LGBTQ+ comic couples (and characters) to mention. Feel free to mention your fav(s) in the comments or come chat with me on Twitter.