Although comics have always been an inherently political form of media, it took a long time for editors to be on board with the idea of openly gay superheroes, partially as a result of the dreaded Comics Code of Authority. While we have yet to shake all of the stigma and backlash set by the Comics Code of Authority, we have made strides in the years since it was stricken down. While queer characters are still vastly underrepresented by Marvel and DC Comics, there are a great deal more well-written LBGTQIA characters in comics than there were 20 years ago.
While the existence of queer superheroes is still taboo to some readers (as they have made perfectly clear on Twitter, Reddit and other internet forums), change is just something they will have to get used to as they are here to stay. Even though the announcement of a new queer character, or the reimagining of a character whose orientation was never addressed as queer usually makes waves, there are some openly queer characters you might not know about. In an attempt to remedy that, CBR presents a list of 15 characters you might not have known were openly queer and have been in gay relationships.
Alan Scott was the Golden Age Green Lantern, way back when, but in 2012, with the launch of “Earth 2” the Green Lantern saw a reinterpretation: he was revealed to be gay. Alan Scott is the pinnacle of exceptionalism. He’s a ringless Green Lantern who instead is a literal conduit for the green energy that flows through the ring. Additionally, he’s a media and communications mogul, who just happens to be gay and in a happily committed relationship with his partner, Sam.
This reinterpretation was orchestrated by writer, James Robinson. Robinson had written the first gay kiss in a DC Comic just a year earlier (between JLA member Starman, and his boyfriend, Tasmanian Devil). Robinson is also known for fleshing out the first gay character to the Marvel Universe, a character who is also on this list.
Batwoman (aka Katherine Kane) was originally introduced in Detective Comics #233 (1956) as a love interest for Batman, to disprove the allegations that Batman and Robin were gay. She was reintroduced as Kate Kane in 52 #7 -- a lipstick lesbian of Jewish descent who took on the mantle of Batwoman after Batman’s disappearance.
Additionally, it came to light that Batwoman had been romantically involved with Renee Montoya, a former Gotham City Police detective, who would go on to become The Question after the original incarnation of the hero died. Since being reintroduced to the DC Universe, Kate Kane’s Batwoman has gone on to star in two self-titled comic series, as well as being an important character in the publisher’s long running Detective Comics title.
From 2001 to 2015, the Ultimate Universe was an important element of the Marvel Multiverse, featuring different incarnations of all of Marvel’s characters. The Ultimate Universe (1610) had a more modern feel than the 616, which is perhaps why it was that incarnation of Colossus (Piotr Rasputin) who was revealed to be gay. Writers had hinted at Colossus’s orientation for a few years, before it was finally revealed in Ultimate X-Men #65 by way of Colossus accepting a date from fellow mutant, Northstar.
Reinterpreting Colossus as a gay man was particularly significant, because the character was known for being the pinnacle of masculinity -- a character that was identified with by the book’s mostly straight male fanbase. This decision showed readers that all is not always as it seems, and that the X-Men would continue, even in a different universe, to be a group that continually pushed society’s boundaries.
While fans had speculated about the nature of the two mutants’ relationship for some time, it was not until X-Factor #45 that writer Peter David confirmed the rumors around a Rictor/Shatterstar relationship -- with a kiss, no less. Their role in X-Factor was a bit different than most of Marvel’s mutant titles -- rather than a crimefighting team, they were essentially members of a mutant-run detective agency, similar to Luke Cage’s Heroes for Hire.
The relationship between Rictor and Shatterstar was started by Jeph Loeb, but Loeb never really threw any more fuel on the fire, leaving fans with nothing more than subtext and speculation. Luckily, due to an editorial miscommunication regarding another character in the book, David was permitted to reintroduce Shatterstar, bringing the Rictor/Shatterstar relationship front and center.
Though John Constantine has always been canonically bisexual, it was a facet of his character that writers ignored almost entirely for several years. That is, until Brian Azzarello took control of the character and penned such stories as “Ashes & Dust in the City of Angels” which showed the occult hero having intimate and romantic relationships with men, as well as women.
Some of the New 52 incarnation of the character’s more prominent relationships were with Zatanna, as well as Nick Necro -- both prominent magic users with a familiarity with the occult. Another interesting aspect of Constantine’s character is that his Vertigo and DC Universe iterations age completely differently with the Vertigo Constantine aging in real time, and the DC Constantine being much younger.
One of Marvel’s most iconic gay couples is that of Wiccan and Hulkling. Wiccan (aka Billy Kaplan) entered a relationship with his fellow Young Avenger, Hulkling (aka Teddy Altman) shortly after the two met during the formation of the team, a story contained within the first volume of the Young Avengers.
Created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, the young couple made their debuts in 2005 and have since gone on to be recognized as a pillar of the next generation of Marvel heroes. Additionally, Wiccan and Hulkling’s relationship has been shown to stand the test of time, when a glimpse into the future showed that Teddy and Billy would marry and have a daughter later on in life. Currently, the two young heroes are engaged.
Though the character debuted in Spawn, the rights were later sold to Marvel, but Angela’s Marvel debut wouldn’t come until years later. It was eventually revealed that she is the sister of Thor and Loki, but was raised by the Angels of the Tenth Realm. After venturing to Hel to bring back Sera, Angela was able to depose Hela.
This story was continued in Angela: Queen of Hel where it was revealed that Sera had been made Angela’s "royal consort". This, coupled with the fact that Sera is referred to as Angela’s beloved throughout the series would suggest that they were a bit closer than friends. Additionally, Sera is a trans angel of color, making Angela: Queen of Hel one of Marvel’s most progressive comics to date.
Midnighter and his longtime partner Apollo finally got their own series thanks to DC's rebirth with Midnighter and Apollo. However, their history is much more complex. Originally a part of Stormwatch and introduced by writer Warren Ellis, Midnighter and Apollo were former agents of a secret black ops team. The two would be parts of multiple series in the Wildstorm imprint until the New 52, in which Midnighter and Apollo were integrated into the mainstream DC Universe, albeit with no knowledge of each other’s orientation or their mutual attraction to one another.
It didn’t take long for a recently single Midnighter starring in his own self-titled series to think that something was missing, though. This led to the Steve Orlando written miniseries Midnighter and Apollo which sees the two back together, as it should be.
Northstar (aka Jean-Paul Beaubier) is one of the first gay characters introduced to the Marvel Universe, as well as a mutant. Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Northstar was always meant to be gay, but editorial snags prevented the character’s orientation from being directly addressed by writers until 2002. As one of Marvel’s more prominent gay characters, Northstar has been acknowledged as a role model by other gay characters, such as Anole, another gay mutant.
It has been implied that Northstar got it on with Hercules at one point though his days of hooking up are certainly in the past. Why? Well because Northstar got married to his longtime boyfriend Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-Men #51 -- the first gay marriage to be depicted in a Marvel comic.
Daken is the aggressively bisexual son of Wolverine. While he is most well-known for trying to kill his father, this villain/occasional anti-hero might as well also be known for his rampant promiscuity. Daken (created by writer Daniel Way and artist Steve Dillon) is quite the charmer -- in that one of his abilities is to literally alter the emotional state of others.
He uses this ability to get ahead, similarly to how he uses his bisexuality and promiscuity to his advantage -- often sleeping with those who can get him what he wants. Since his father’s death, Daken has erred more on the side of good than evil, going as far as helping the new Wolverine (aka Laura Kinney) treat those infected with a virus on Roosevelt Island.
Ms. America (aka America Chavez) is Marvel’s first Latina LGBTQ character to get her own self-titled series. Created by writer Joe Casey and artist Nick Dragotta, America Chavez made her Marvel debut in the mini-series Vengeance in 2011. She later went on to appear in A-Force, Young Avengers, and The Ultimates before getting her own series, America written by Latin-American LGBTQ novelist Gabby Rivera.
America Chavez was raised by her two mothers in the Utopian Parallel, a reality set outside of time. After her mothers sacrificed themselves to save the Utopian Parallel, America left, becoming a superhero in her own right. The character is still relatively fresh, and as of now, she’s only dated one woman -- an EMT in-training named Lisa Halloran. However, her friendship with fellow Young Avenger Kate Bishop has raised plenty of questions, though it remains platonic.
Max Modell was introduced to the Marvel Universe by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos back in Amazing Spider-Man #648. While Modell, being Peter Parker’s old boss at Horizon Labs, might seem out of place amongst all of the superheroes and villains that make up this list, that’s precisely why he’s on it. During Peter’s time at Horizon, Max Modell was a very prominent character in Amazing Spider-Man.
Later on in Slott’s run on the title, readers were able to sit in on Max’s wedding to his longtime boyfriend, Hector Baez. Representation is important, and it’s great that we’re getting more queer superheroes and villains, but seeing a queer supporting character whose relevance does not revolve around spandex and punching makes us feel all fuzzy inside.
Okay, so this one is not exactly canon, but there's just no denying how great it is. Two of the most hyper-masculine Marvel characters to date, Hercules and Wolverine shacking up with one another? Oh yeah, and there’s leather, because of course there’s leather. In the tenth issue of X-Treme X-Men, a series that tells stories of X-Men characters from parallel universes, we see Hercules and Wolverine (or "Howlett" as he’s called in X-Treme X-Men) sharing a deep, passionate kiss, after saving the world, of course.
While the story told was not canon, it depicted a loving relationship with a degree of depth outside of what readers normally get from short non-canonical love stories. Many thanks to writer Greg Pak and artist Mike Mckone for giving the world this prominent moment.
Teen Titans #6 introduced the newest member of the team’s Rebirth lineup: Aqualad. Fans of the hit animated series Young Justice will recognize the character, as they share the same design. However, there are some key differences between the two. Whereas Young Justice's Aqualad was raised in Atlantis, Rebirth’s Aqualad (aka Jackson Hyde) has no knowledge of his father, or his heritage.
Though he exhibits the same powers as his Young Justice counterpart, Hyde’s mother doesn’t like him to use them, even when alone. His mother also doesn’t approve of his bleached hair, or of him being gay. Hyde’s decision to seek out the Teen Titans was spurred on by how appalled his boyfriend was when he showed off his powers. Without even the support of his boyfriend, Jackson Hyde had no reason to stick around New Mexico, and headed to Titans Tower.
Though she’s (unfortunately) more well-known for her awful relationship with The Joker, that’s over, and hopefully, never going to rear its ugly head ever again. More recently, in Harley’s Rebirth title, we have seen her finally making things official with long-term on-again-off-again, Poison Ivy. While Harley and Ivy have been romantically involved for quite some time, it has been a slow build.
Since the New 52, we’ve seen the two go from hookups to being involved in a non-monogamous relationship, to finally, the committed relationship they are happily in today. The romantic partnership between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy was the creative work of the longtime Harley Quinn creative team Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, who have been behind the Clown Princess of Crime’s solo title since the very start.
Did we miss someone who should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!