7:03am

Wed February 20, 2013
Books

Beyond Visible: LGBT Characters In Graphic Novels

OK, yes: To gay comics fans like me, DC Comics' decision to hire an anti-gay activist like Orson Scott Card to write Superman — an iconic character who exists to represent humanity's noblest ideals of justice and compassion — is deeply dispiriting.

But it doesn't change the fact that today's mainstream superhero comics contain more LGBT characters than ever. Surely this is a good (if, let's agree, weirdly specific) thing. After all, superheroes remain the comics medium's dominant genre, and having the characters who populate that genre more closely resemble those of us who populate the world at large must count as progress.

Northstar. Batwoman. Hulkling. Wiccan. The Green Lantern of Earth-2. Bunker. Midnighter. Apollo. Shatterstar. Daken. Billy the Vampire Slayer. None of them is a household name, yet they're making their way into more and more households as an increasing number of storylines deal matter-of-factly with the sexuality of LGBT heroes. To organizations like GLAAD, which campaign for greater LGBT visibility in pop culture, that's what counts.

But visibility is a first step. And while I'm happy that the superhero genre is finally taking it, it must be noted that creators of manga and independent comics like the ones below have already taken many steps down this road, telling nuanced, compelling and at times discomfiting stories about the varied and complicated LGBT experience.

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