Queer Comic Book Characters: Swift (Oct 14th)

Apollo and Midnighter may be the most famous queer characters in The Authority, but they aren’t the only ones. They’re just in good company. This reminds me of a time my mom asked me if all my friends are gay. No, mom, they aren’t all gay; we’re just magnetic to tolerant people, who have a high likelihood of also being gay.

Shen Li-Min (Swift)


Swift is a bisexual Buddhist Tibetan. But what makes her even cooler is that she has talon and wings that give her super fast flying powers and other super senses. Oh, no, wait, that’s not what makes her the coolest. What makes Swift the coolest is that she’s the only character not created by Warren Ellis to make it onto The Authority‘s roster. That’s right, even Ellis know she’s awesome.

Swift first appears in Stormwatch, where she’s a Seedling, one of the people with latent or partial superpowers due to a comet that passed by Earth. Swift’s powers are partially activated when Stormwatch recruits her.

Then Weatherman Henry Bendix places her on Stormwatch’s Black Ops Team with Jenny Sparks and Jack Hawksmoor, her future Authority teammates. It’s then that Swift’s powers are activated to their full potential, which gives her super senses, talons, and wings instead of feathered arms. Her wings and talons can also appear and disappear by will.

Much of Swift’s personal life focuses on her struggle as she changes from a pacifist to a warrior. She realizes the world needs to be protected. Which is why she answers Jenny Spark’s call to join the Authority, the team that will make a better world whether you like it or not. Though Swift does save the world with a hug at one point.

Swift’s willingness to join the Authority is probably influenced by Jenny being her lover. After Jenny dies, Swift takes a male lover, Grunge, a surfer who’s part of Gen13. Usually, their scenes imply that he’s nothing more than a boytoy.

Unfortunately, post-Ellis, many writers didn’t know how to expand Swift’s characterization and story. Both Mark Millar and John Ridley play on sexual stereotypes of Asian women. Millar has Swift mind-controlled and a trophy wife/sex toy of a TV exec, and Ridley has her sadistically tortured by an insane with grief Congressman who’s villain daughter Swift killed in the Millar’s stoyline.

However, Swift remains awesome and I have some hope for the current “World’s End” storyline. Or at least it’s been lovely to see the surviving and confused birds follow Swift around as their leader. Maybe she’ll also get to interact with someone besides her already hooked up teammates.


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