The title of this blog post seems bizarre, but Alison Bechdel is a character in her own autobiographic graphic novel, Fun Home, a play on Funeral Home. (Her father was a funeral home director and high school English teacher.) The novel takes places in non-linear flashbacks to Bechdel’s time in her parents’ home and by in large, her relationship with her father, Bruce Bechdel.
In many ways, I think my literary tastes fall right in line with enjoying this novel. In fact, I read it in an afternoon. (English major as charged.) The Bechdel house is one of books and there are many literary references — from James Joyce to the fable of Icarus — littered throughout the novel. Continue reading “Queer Comic Book Characters: Alison Bechdel (Oct 13th)”
I have an affinity for solo character comics series, and no solo series is complete without a good cast of supporting characters. In Marc Andreyko’s Manhunter, Damon Matthews serves as title character Kate Spencer’s co-counsel and fellow DA.
Damon has no superpowers of his own and does not engage in fighting crime, except through his work as a lawyer. However, he quickly pieces together that Kate has become Manhunter and he covers for her on many occasions. Continue reading “Queer Comic Book Characters: Damon Matthews (Oct 12th)”
In the introduction for Gotham Central: Half a Life trade paperback, author Greg Rucka writes, “Ordinary people have secret identities, too.”
Today is National Coming Out Day. As both a queer woman and an English major, I’ve read a million and one coming out stories. There are entire anthologies devoted to real life coming out stories and almost every LGBT fictional or biographical book has an embedded coming out story.
This is not to say that coming out, especially the first time(s) and to authority figures, isn’t a big thing. In fact, being out is a privilege that not all queer people have. However, in literature, this type of story becomes cliche or a safe tale to tell about the gay experience.
Then came along Renee Montoya and her coming out story in Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Gotham Central: Half a Life. It rocked my socks.
Continue reading “Queer Comic Book Characters: Renee Montoya (Oct 11th)”
Until 1989, the Comics Code Authority banned all mentions of homosexuality and definitely all openly gay characters. Jim Shooter, Marvel editor-in-chief in the 1980s, had a “No Gays in the Marvel Universe” stance and in the 1990s, all solo features with gay characters had to be labeled as “Adults Only.” Thankfully, as of 2006, current editor-in-chief Joe Quesada says this policy’s no longer in effect.
Unfortunately, Irene Adler aka Destiny died in Uncanny X-Men #255, which was published December 1989. She has not be resurrected.
Irene Adler (Destiny)
Irene is a blind mutant precognitive, born in Austria. During her adolescence, she filled 13 volumes with her future predictions called “The Books of Truth.” After this, she went blind. Though throughout her lifetime, Irene continued to make many accurate predictions. Continue reading “Queer Comic Book Characters: Destiny (Oct 10th)”
Transgendered characters are rather rare in comic books. Sure there’s the cliche of Superman waking up as a woman one morning and Wolverine being changed into a woman by a fellow mutant; but neither of them were actually transgendered. Xavin from Marvel’s Runaways actually is.
Born male, Xavin is a Skrull Prince and promised at a young age to marry Karolina Dean in order to make a treaty between the Majesdanians and the Skrulls. (Interestingly enough, Karolina’s parents always thought this would fail and set the marriage up for failure.) Xavin was in training to be a Super Skrull and idolizes K’lrt, the infamous Super Skrull who’s a frequent foe of the Fantastic Four. Like K’lrt, Xavin can mimic the powers of the Fantastic Four; however, she can only do one at a time and loud noises break her concentration. Continue reading “Queer Comic Book Characters: Xavin (Oct 9th)”
To lighten things up after Watchmen, our next gay comic hero is the orange dinosaur Utahraptor from Dinosaur Comics. For those of you who’ve never read the often too poignant and meaningful to my life Dinosaur Comics, the web comic is the same six panel layout every day with mostly only the words changing.
The pivotal scene where Utahraptor reminds T-Rex they once slept together.
Utahraptor serves as T-Rex’s comedic foil in the stories. Which means, he generally points out how wrong or insensitive T-Rex is being and offers up his own opinion. In Episode 4, Utahraptor is confirmed to be gay; however, as creator Ryan North points out, Utahraptor has lots of other interests besides his own sexuality.
At one point, Utahraptor and T-Rex were roommates and had a sexual, and possible romantic relationship. T-Rex conveniently forgot this, but Utahraptor still holds a torch for T-Rex. Perhaps a future episode will feature them hooking back up, which I’m sure T-Rex will suffer from more selective amnesia about.
Both Rorschach (Walter Kovacs) and Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) are also possible LGBT characters. However, the text does not directly identity either them as gay; it only gives undertones and innuendos. This could be Moore and Gibbons’ way of saying that neither Rorschach nor Adrian are self-aware enough concerning to their sexuality to self-identify and/or act on any urge, and both are essentially asexual. This could also mean that neither of them are gay as Moore and Gibbons had no problem identifying Ursula Zandt (Silhouette), The Hooded Justice, and Nelson Gardner (Captain Metropolis) as LGBT; and the latter two were very closeted, though couldn’t keep their relationship with each other a secret from their team members. Continue reading “Queer Comic Book Characters: Rorschach and Ozymandias (Oct 7th) Watchmen 3 of 3”
While these posts are part of a celebration of LGBT History Month, Watchmen‘s problems go beyond just sexual minorities, and I’ll also be covering gender and racial minorities in this part.
As a great story, Watchmen must be able to reach across all types of people and become a universal story. A universal story is enjoyable no matter who you are and no matter if you physically or emotionally resemble the characters. Watchmen, however, falls short from being a universal story as Alan Moore and David Gibbons normalize women, racial minorities, and sexual minorities through marginalization.
Moore notes that he wanted control over his own characters for Watchmen so he could destroy or kill them without blighting the beloved DC Universe. This is important because Moore’s making a mockery of the perfect superhero, who has no flaws, by making his heroes murder and rape victims, become alcoholics, go crazy, etc., and he gives only one of them actual superpowers. Most of them are no stronger, faster, etc. than you or I. This meta text is credited with moving superhero comics into darker realms of human experience than they’d ever been before. Moore and Gibbons craftly uses the backdrop of the Cold War and millennial panic to show how everyone, regardless of superpowers, gender, race, or sexual orientation, is affected by life. Continue reading “Queer Comic Book Characters: Normalization Through Marginalization in Watchmen (Oct 6th) 2 of 3”
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen is without a doubt one of the most celebrated comics ever created. Published in 1986-87, they took archetypes of classic Charlton Comics’ characters, gave them flaws, and put them in a dystopian alternative universe where the United States won the Vietnam War; Nixon’s still president for several terms; nuclear war with the U.S.S.R. seems imminent.
While Watchmen mostly focuses on the second superhero team, the Crimebusters, it features flashbacks to their predecessors, the Minutemen. The Minutemen had three notable LGBT characters: Ursula Zandt (Silhouette), The Hooded Justice, and Nelson Gardner (Captain Metropolis). Sadly, all three have been murdered before the story ever begins. This is problematic given the history of LGBT characters being killed off, and I will go further into this in Part 2 of 3.
The D.C. Comic’s PR machine certainly hyped the new Batwoman, specifically the fact that Kate Kane is a lesbian. Before Kate made her first appearance in 52 #7, everyone had an opinion on this lipstick lesbian who was fighting crime in high heels and a cape. However, unlike many who brushed Kate off as a publicity stunt, I’d actually read Greg Rucka’s writing before and trusted him to created a solid background for Kate. For better or worse, 52 was the first DC book I really picked up on my weekly pull list.
Kate Kane, aka Batwoman
Like her male counterpart, Kate comes from a wealthy family and is a socialite. It’s revealed that she’s the ex-girlfriend (in something of an off-and-on again relationship) with detective-turned-superhero Renee Montoya. However, Renee is not the reason that Kate takes up the cowl. Continue reading “Queer Comic Book Characters: Batwoman (Oct 4th)”