Thursday, July 21, 2011

Newest X-Men Comic Addresses LGBT Teen Suicide

If you're a gay comic book nerd like me (what blogger isn't) then the X-Men storylines are stories you have likely followed for years.  I myself was an unabashed lover of Storm growing up, cuz I mean, that bitch is a diva:  

Continuing the X-Men's theme as a metaphor for the civil rights struggles of our time, one of Marvel's latest ventures is Generation Hope, a book that describes the trials of mutant teens as they develop their superpowers (read: they find out they're gay) and figure how to integrate into society (read: come out of the closet).  Generation Hope #9, which hits the stores today, was teased by Marvel as follows:

"'OUT, OUT...' This is the X-Men comic that will have people talking for years! Some candles burn twice as bright and half as long. Some candles don't get a chance to burn at all. Generation Hope discover what happens when a light goes out."

In an interview with, the writer, Kieron Gillen, illuminates that it is a reference to the teen LGBT suicide.  

"It was directly inspired by the conversation around the very public gay suicide stories. It doesn't get much more sensitive.

"When the stories [about gay teen suicide] started to break, the first place I heard about it was actually from Fraction. We'd just passed the baton, and he said "If I was still writing the X-Men...". I read the news and could only agree.

"It's not the type of story that fits in any other major superhero book. It's simply not what those books are about. But the X-Men? X-Men is a book about mutants, used as a metaphor about prejudice. And of the X-Men books, Generation Hope is fundamentally about new mutants trying to survive dealing with the fact they're mutants. With the metaphor in place, you can not just do a story about it - I dare say you should tell a story about it. In a real way, it's the sort of story Generation Hope exists to tell. If we can't tell this story and tell it as well as we can, the book may as well not exist."

Awesome.  Now if we could get the cast of X-Men: First Class would do an It Gets Better Video.

I figured I'd take this opportunity (I really love comics) to do a short rundown on the who's who of gay mutants in Marvel continuity:

1.  Northstar

Northstar is arguably the most famous gay comic book character ever, being the first featured in Marvel comics.  He notably also became the first to come out as HIV-positive.  He cured it, naturally, because he was half-fairy.  Whatevs.  He started out a member of the Canadian-based Alpha Flight (Canucks like gays better anyway) but then became an X-Man.

2.  Wiccan

Wiccan, a member of the Young Avengers, is a magic-using son of the probability-changing Scarlet Witch.  He originally was called Asgardian (as a nod to Avenger Thor) but changed his name when he came out as gay and dating fellow Young Avenger Hulkling.  I agree with the name change: it's probably a bit problematic to be gay and have your code name rhyme with Ass-Guardian.

3.  Hulkling

The son of Captain Mar-Vell and a Skrull princess, Hulkling has shapeshifting abilities that allow him to have increased strength and stamina.  Plus, he's a hot blond.  'Nuff said.  

4.  Karolina Dean

Karolina, a member of the Runaways, is a teen superheroine who has solar-based superpowers.  Her storyline began with an unrequited crush on the female lead of her group of teen heroes, but she has since fallen in love with Xavin, a Super-Skrull-in-training.  In fact, much like myself, she has been engaged to her partner.  She is notable for having once been suicidal, even offering herself to a vampire in hopes he would kill her.  After beginning her relationship with Xavin, she has since become much happier.  

5.  Xavin

Xavin, a Super-Skrull-in-training, was pledged at birth to be the husband of the Majesdanian Karolina Dean.  Xavin hit a snag in the road, though, when "Kar" came out as lesbian.  Luckily Xavin can change genders, which I would argue makes her not just a gay superhero, but a transgender one as well.  Xavin tragically left the Runaways title in order to protect Karolina from... um... space cops... and hasn't been heard from since.

6.  Anole

Anole is a mutant superhero associated with the X-men, with the powers of color-changing, a prehensile tongue (don't get pervy, readers) and the ability to crawl on walls.  Since his debut, he has become a fan favorite, as he has evolved in his sexuality enough that it is no longer an issue that plagues, due to his mentorship by the aforementioned Northstar.

There a tons more LGBT characters in comics, but these are certainly the most popular in Marvel.  Their recent storylines, to me, indicate that Marvel is thinking smartly about their audience.  Queers have long loved the X-Men, and now they are getting storylines that touch directly on modern LGBT issues.

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