As Gay Pride Month winds down, Pink Kryptonite takes a cursory look at the state of gays and lesbians in superhero comics. It’s the usual suspects, mostly — Wiccan and Hulkling, Obsidian, Batwoman, The Question, etc. — with two notable, and very recently added, exceptions: Marvel’s Shatterstar and Rictor.
That’s right, those C-list mainstays of the X-Universe Shatterstar and Rictor. Last week’s X-Factor #45 ended years of online speculation — and in-story winks — about the nature of their relationship by showing them reuniting with a kiss.
Witnessing the moment, Strong Guy says, “Uh-kay. Didn’t see that comin’.” Judging from the number of fan sites devoted to the pair, he’s about the only one who missed the signs.
Some of the sites, of course, contain slash fiction. But others, such as Shattering the Earth, chronicle the characters’ histories and sift countless issues searching for clues about their sexuality and formerly theoretical romance.
Rictor was created in 1987 by Louise Simonson and Walter Simonson, and introduced in the first volume of X-Factor. Shatterstar is a quintessentially early-’90s creation of Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza who debuted in New Mutants #99 before becoming a regular in X-Force. The two characters were teammates, and close friends, in the latter title.
I drifted away from the new volume of X-Factor a couple of years ago — I’d be hard-pressed to give a reason, though — but I recall writer Peter David giving sly nods to fan speculation about Rictor, who lost his earth-moving powers during “M-Day” before joining X-Factor Investigations. (A funny exchange between Jamie Madrox and Rictor about Quicksilver and Shatterstar comes to mind. Shattering the Earth says it was Issue 14, and who am I to doubt the webmaster?)
The low-key “outing,” such that it is, is sure to delight some fans and likely annoy or anger others. But what I find interesting is that the reveal managed to slip largely beneath the radar in a week when more eyes were focused on Batwoman’s debut in Detective Comics.
(Image via Heroes & Hunks, which is NSFW.)