Queer Comic Book Characters: Xavin (Oct 9th)

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.

Xavin comes to Earth to hunt for Karolina in secret. When they first meet, Karolina tells him that she’s not interested based on him being male. Xavin then transforms into a human looking woman to please Karolina. She tells Karolina that for a Skrull, changing skin is like changing your hair color or outfit.

However, Xavin’s ability to change form and sometimes shifting into a male form, especially when fighting or intimidating a villain, causes Karolina (and the reader) to have some doubt in how transgendered Xavin really is. In Runaways Vol 2 #8, Karolina and Xavin are arguing and in heat of anger, Xavin shifts into female form. It’s at this point where Karolina and the reader start to believe that Xavin actually sees herself as female.

Sadly, just when readers were hoping for Xavin’s storyline to expand, Xavin has been whisked away to other parts of the universe pretending to be Karolina. (More of this intergalactic strife.) While I’m sure this won’t be the last we’ll see of her, I do worry that we won’t see Karolina and her reconcile.

Karolina and Xavin kiss one last time
Karolina and Xavin kiss one last time.

Get to know Xavin from zi’s origins, buy Runaways Vol. 5: Escape to New York by Brian K. Vaughan and support this blog.

0 Replies to “Queer Comic Book Characters: Xavin (Oct 9th)”

    1. That is definitely a good point. I do think it’s hard to pin down a gender identity for a shape shifting character, especially one from an alien culture. And Xavin hasn’t had that much time in comics for fuller character development.

  1. I think that Xavin is an amazing character and well though through, although i was really sad when she leaves Karolina im still happy that they love each other so much.

  2. Xavinnnnnn. ;A;

    I miss her so much! She needs to come back… Seriously. I can’t be the only one who noticed that the writers (up to Kathryn Immonen) kind of skipped over the part where Karolina should have been depressed and sad (not skipping down the beach holding hands with Nico while giggling).

    My friend thought of a perfect situation where Xavin comes back to Earth in a space ship – squishing Nico in the process – and carries Gert in her arms out the door while Old Lace follows behind them.

    I’ve always viewed her as a male to female transexual, because it’s pretty apparent that Xavin views herself as female: as the series progresses, she shifts less and less into a man, unless she wants to be intimidating (which I think is due to her limited knowledge of Earth, believing that men are the more powerful, threatening sex).

    1. @Kat — I miss her so much. I too was so glad when Immonen addressed that Karolina would be mourning for her.

      Though I don’t see it as a Xavin > Nico. There doesn’t need to be a competition.

      I think it’s interesting to see each writer’s take on Xavin. If we go, by the book Skrull, they have no gender. However, I’d agree that she was mostly portrayed as a mtf transsexual as she does retain her female form not just to please Karolina.

  3. I disagree about Xavin being transgender. Her story isn’t based on trans themes beyond those most superficial. In fact, Xavin echoes a lot of the memes that make transgender folk threatening to the world at large. The transgender person as deceiver, as infiltrator into spaces they could not honorably enter…. these are very pernicious ideas, and I see them in Xavin. Xavin is a shapeshifter…. maybe a wish fulfillment for the guy who really wants to get with a lesbian…. but transgender? No. We deserve better.

    1. I disagree that that’s how Xavin was presented in the book. I think maybe Xavin was those stereotypes to the world at large — which was presented as fearing all the Runways — but not the group themselves.

      Do I think Xavin is the end-all-be-all to transgendered characters in comics? No. And I certainly believe that there need to be more who perhaps more explicitly deal more consciously with gender.

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