April 26, 2013
Marvel And The Gay Community
In Marvel’s “News” section, they have on occasion an intriguing series called “Psych Ward.” For those who have never read it, imagine reading a report by a trained therapist over the various super heroes and villains and analyzing their mental/emotional troubles; in essence, that is what this is. One may find this hard to believe, but Marvel excels at creating characters with severe personal troubles and complications that are still relatable to the average reader. On April 23, 2012, Marvel released their “Psych Ward” special over Wiccan and Hulkling.
Many people may read this and most likely will say “Who are they?” They are members of the Young Avengers and were first seen in Young Avengers #1 (April 2005). Rather new to the Marvel hero community, they do have one trait that distinguishes them from many popular classics: they are both gay and are in a romantic relationship with each other. I had known about these characters for awhile, so their sexual preferences did not come as a shock, but it got me thinking about the role of gay heroes in the Marvel heroes. Obviously, there are not many big name heroes who are gay (yet, never doubt Marvel’s ability to spring surprises on its readers). Note: this article will NOT state approval nor disapproval towards anyone’s sexual preference in order to maintain neutrality as a writer and will try to remain objective.
At first, many people, who have not spent hours upon hours with a nose in a comic (unlike me, yet even I have plenty more to read), may think that there are simply no gay characters in the Marvel universe. However, if one were to go to this link, one becomes quickly surprised as to how many names appear. Popular characters to appear on the list are Brian Falsworth/Union Jack, Jean-Paul Beaubier/Northstar, Karolina Dean of the Runaways, Xi’an Coy Mahn/Karma, and Brandon Sharpe/Striker. If you are unfamiliar with any of these characters, quickly look them over and you will find that each is unique and while they may all be gay, they are all varied and have other problems and interests besides just their sexuality.
Of course, I have noticed a greater emphasis on gay heroes and their place in Marvel society in more recent comics and I admittedly approve. Not so much on their stance (since anyone can take a stance), but because they are addressing a modern day issue that everyone can easily relate to, bringing those people in our society and portraying them between Marvel’s pages. In a memorable issue, Astonishing X-Men #51 (June 20, 2012), a whole wedding scene between Northstar and his partner, Kyle Jinadu, is depicted and despite there being mostly heroes, it still gives the impression of a typical marriage (with a few exceptions, of course!).
In my opinion, one of the most real yet depressing moments in the aforementioned issue is Warbird stating that she would not be attending Northstar’s wedding. Many of Northstar’s friends and families are there to support them, but Warbird is the sole exception. She tells Jean-Paul bluntly that she could not attend his wedding because she could not “recognize the validity of the wedding vows”; while she respected him, she could not stay for her reasons and despite his insistence to stay as his friend, she leaves him on his big day. It is odd that this behavior is exhibited solely from the alien Shi’ar, and may possibly be a clever reflection of Marvel’s view on the situation. This scene is entirely believable and one can only imagine such a thing happening in today’s society; whether you approve or not of gay marriage, most can believe such a thing to occur in a real, every day weddings.
Marvel’s social stance is quite intriguing in how they portray their views. While it is quite obvious that Marvel has no problem and is even supportive of the gay community, the same cannot necessarily be said of our real society. There is irony, however, in the fact that the comic world can address the issue so much faster than people in our nation; this issue is ever-present and growing, yet even Marvel can create entire characters and storyline for their heroes faster than we can make a decision on the subject. As this issue begins to heat up in the Supreme Court cases, don’t be shocked if even Marvel makes a hidden statement on the issue in their comics.
Image Credit: Marvel