This weekend as I was catching up on the comics I grabbed last week, two things struck me. The first was “Damn, all it took was high fashion, geopolitics, and messiness worthy of a Bravo show to get me into X-Men.” The second was, “Oh shit it’s pride month, why not put the homies on to some good-ass books?”
The comics industry, like just about all industries, doesn’t exactly have a storied history of doing right by LGBTQ characters. Recent years have seen the tides of change strike all corners of storytelling for the positive though, with stories about queer characters—often told by queer authors—becoming more and more common.
Given that the majority of the books I’m pulling these days are either about queer characters or feature them prominently in the roster, I figure why not guide y’all to where that good-good representation is at?
I talk about this book a lot, and it’s mainly because it’s the book I’ve wanted for so long. I’ve thirsted for this kind of storytelling. It’s about Blackness, it’s about queerness, it’s about otherness, and most of all: it’s cool as shit.
The book follows Jo Mullein, a bisexual Black woman who is given an unusual Green Lantern ring and tasked with protecting a civilization on the far outskirts of space. Hence the name, Far Sector. All praise be unto N.K. Jemisin because the feat she pulls off here is stunning. I’d like to think I’m pretty well versed on the world of superheroes, and I can honestly say that I’ve never read a book that does so much and just makes it look easy.
Jo’s sexuality is handled with an honest, straight-forward approach. She was dating a woman before the start of the book, has an entanglement with a man, and the book doesn’t make a big fuss out of it. This is just a part of who she is. On top of that, the book tackles voter suppression, class disparities, racism, and it does it all through a compelling murder-mystery.
The final issue of the book dropped this week, which makes it the perfect time to learn just who Jo Mullein is. Don’t be surprised if that’s a name you start hearing a lot more of.
X-Factor is probably one of the queerest team books on the stands right now. It’s also one of my favorites. Ever since Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers run in 2013, I’ve been a Prodigy stan. He’s a Black boy whose mutant ability allows him to absorb and retain the intelligence of any person he’s encountered. Sure Tony Stark has a suit, but in Black Panther Prodigy—actually, I won’t spoil that in case you feel like seeing for yourself.
As you can guess, Prodigy is a member of X-Factor, a group of mutants who have been tasked with investigating the unsolved deaths of various mutants across the Marvel universe. The group is led by Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a Northstar, who is currently married to Kyle Jinadu, a Black man. In fact, I’d say the majority of the roster of X-Factor are all either bisexual or gay.
I’d highly recommend most of the current X-Men books, as I feel the representation in terms of race and sexuality has been great, and the ongoing Hellfire Gala has already been a blast. If you can only grab one book, though, I’d recommend X-Factor. It’s a fun romp through the Marvel universe with a completely lovable cast of characters.
I know it’s weird to point out a single issue, but The Other History of the DC Universe is essentially an anthology series where each issue spotlights a different character in the DC universe. The series as a whole is intended to retrace the history of the DC Universe through the queer and non-white characters who have historically been left on the sidelines. Issue #4 follows Renee Montoya, who you may remember from last year’s phenomenal Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).
The book does a great job of showing just how corrosive it is to have to hide who you really are. Montoya is portrayed as messy, kind of an asshole, but always a person worthy of empathy. The journey she takes through this book is compelling, and you really feel for the internal anguish Montoya deals with throughout the course of the book.
Of the four issues that have dropped so far, this stands as my favorite because it gives a level of nuance and care to this underappreciated character.
This month will also see Marvel and DC release pride related specials, and if you check out either of their apps, Marvel Unlimited and DC Universe Infinite, you’ll find collections spotlighting the queer characters in both universes. The list of queer centric titles has slowly, but surely, been growing and I only scratched the surface. We didn’t even get into all the creator-owned heat.
So, if you’ve been looking for some super-powered spectacles to celebrate pride, I hope this list was helpful.
Happy Pride Month, y’all!