It’s unavoidable. You look back at the 1940s, 50s, and 60s in comics, and the super-heroes all… look the same. Sure, costumes vary and powers are different, but all-in-all, most heroes were pretty much universally white, straight, and male, even though the world was as diverse then — in color, gender, and sexuality — as it is now.
Fast forward 75 years and things are starting to change, and this Wednesday, we see a collection of stories hitting comic shops (next week: bookstores) that give us a whole lot more than just the usual straight, white dude swinging on his rope. With the arrival of Catwoman Volume 7, Doomed, Batgirl Volume 2, and Midnighter Volume 1, DC Comics has a much more diverse world to show us on the page with a blend of new and old female, person of color, and LGBT characters who shine.
Here are 12 of the best reasons to hit up your shop and dig in…
Catwoman Volume 7
Selina Kyle put aside her life as Catwoman to run Gotham’s criminal underworld as its queen of crime, but now the catsuit’s back on and Catwoman’s got a new mission–find out what happened to Batman! Spinning out of the events of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman: Endgame, Selina Kyle finds herself juggling a criminal empire constantly on the brink of war and a search for an old friend and sometimes-foe. Will Selina find the answers she’s after, or will curiosity kill this cat?
Collecting Catwoman #41-46, and the free 8-page prelude story.
1. Selina Kyle
It was an eventful year for Catwoman, as Selina Kyle discovered the identity of her long lost father: Rex Calabrese, godfather of the Calabrese crime family in Gotham City. With her father’s blessing, Selina hung up her catsuit for a pantsuit and took charge of Gotham’s mafia, eager to unite the many warring families in order to make her home town a safer place for everyone. Along the way, she fell for the daughter of a rival crime lord — who just so happened to want to take on the Catwoman role herself, and acknowledged what comic fans have wondered about for years: Selina is bisexual.
2. Eiko Hasigawa
Inheritor of the Hasigawa crime family in Gotham City with whom Selina seeks a partnership, Eiko appeared early on to be merely the silent and doting daughter. Soon enough, her attraction to Selina — and to the adventure of the Catwoman role — grew to reveal her true colors amid the politics of the mafia tension citywide. Selina’s confidante, but never her apprentice, Eiko is a strong, stubborn woman. But as things devolve between the families, that stubbornness may not be enough to keep her love with Selina alive, especially when she takes on an apprentice of her own…
3. Stephanie Brown
Fresh out from the events of Batman Eternal, the Spoiler takes on her second big adventure in the New 52, in a decidedly female-dominated environment. As Selina Kyle used her to get what she wanted during the collapse of Gotham, Stephanie Brown is more than eager to return to a life of fighting crime as the Spoiler. And in her mind, Catwoman owes her big. But it may not be Selina Kyle that pays the Cluemaster’s daughter back. Nevertheless, Stephanie soon finds herself pulled between two warring sides. Will she have learned enough in time to escape harm? That’s the big question for every woman in this volume.
Scott Lobdell and Javi Fernandez introduce a whole new angle on this corner of Superman’s mythology as the Doomsday virus that took over earth settles on just one kid. Along the way, Doomed meets up with the newest iteration of the Alpha Centurion!
In the aftermath of Superman: Doomed, Doomsday spores have given a Metropolis U student the ability to mutate into a hulking monstrosity. Using his powers to save the day, can he find the balance between school, work and his new position as superhero?
Collecting the complete series of Doomed #1-6, and the free 8-page prelude story.
He was one of our 2015 Miles Morales Award winners, and there’s more than a little comparison to be made between him and that other guy who finds out about great responsibility and all that. Reiser, also known as the lead character Doomed, is pretty upbeat for a guy who turns into a killer Kryptonian monster every so often. And true to his word, Lobdell’s pledge to no longer create straight, white, male characters holds up with Reiser, not to mention…
Doomed surprised a bunch of fans by reintroducing a second 1990s character from the Superman universe: the Alpha Centurion. Originally, the Alpha Centurion was a REAL Centurion, taken out of time by aliens and returned to earth centuries later. Only this time, the Centurion is a spirit of a roman warrior who inhabits the body of young (aptly named) Roman, Reiser’s roommate, in the moments when he is attempting to save his boyfriend from certain death. Seeing an out gay character who nevertheless has a big secret from his loved ones is almost the best of both worlds for younger readers who may still be questioning their own place in the world. It shows that being gay is totally OK, but still sympathizes with the pressures of the closet.
Batgirl Volume 2
Barbara Gordon’s new life in Burnside continues with this new volume by writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, and artist Babs Tarr. Batgirl may finally be settled into her new digs, but the villains certainly aren’t going to let up any time soon.
There’s a new Batman in town–and that’s bad news for Barbara Gordon! She’s already got enough upheaval in her life, with her roommate Frankie now in on her biggest secret. And what happens when the evil Livewire joins the fight with the intention of taking out both Batgirl and the mysterious new Batman?
Collecting Batgirl #41-45, Annual #3, and the free 8-page prelude story.
6. Barbara Gordon
If Batgirl of Burnside Volume 1 was all about getting Barbara Gordon where she needed to be to have a happy life again, Volume 2 is definitely here to assure you it’s not just going to be easy from here on out. But what we get to see from Babs is a confidence in staring down both her father as Batman and her longtime beau, Dick Grayson, to come away more confident and assertive than ever. And no matter what, this is all about Babs using her brain and brawn in concert (if not her brain just a bit more) to win battles and protect others, including those closest to her…
7. Frankie Charles
In the wake of Barbara’s big identity reveal to her roommate Frankie in volume 1, the woman who would be the new Oracle isn’t taking no for an answer. If helping people by fighting crime is good enough for Babs, it’s good enough for Frankie, muscular dystrophy or no. Anyone looking for a brand new hero — who’s not only a woman with a disability, but Black and bisexual as well — should look no further than Frankie in this volume — and beyond!
8. Qadir Ali
Every super-hero needs a tech guy (or gal). Even James Bond has a Q. Now, so does Batgirl — literally. Qadir may or may not have a crush on Batgirl, but one thing is certain: the lengths he’ll go to create the coolest vehicles and gadgets for the dominoed daredoll is inspiring.
9. Luke Fox
Speaking of crushes, it looks like a new power couple might very well be forming as Luke Fox — the super-hero known as Batwing and son of Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox — comes to Burnside to open up a new business venture. And the attraction makes sense. Both Babs and Luke are young and successful, have fathers with high expectations and an aversion to vigilantism, and extremely technically minded. And you know, wear Bat-masks when they go out on the town.
10. Alysia and Jo
In one of DC’s most impressive LGBT moments of 2015, we also get to see the wedding between longtime series supporting characters Alysia and Jo — both bisexual women and now legally wed! But don’t think both ladies got to the altar unscathed. That wouldn’t be much of a super-hero comic, now would it? Which one heads out into the field to help Batgirl track down the villainous Velvet Tiger? Pick up the book to find out!
Midnighter Volume 1
Has any book ever been more appropriately named? Midnighter is newly single and still destroying evil-doers with prejudice in this first storyline by writer Steve Orlando and artists ACO and Stephen Mooney.
Spinning out of GRAYSON comes a solo series starring the man who can predict your every move…but no one will be able to predict what he’ll do next! A theft at the God Garden has unleashed a wave of dangerous biotech weapons on the world, and Midnighter intends to put that genie back in the bottle by any means necessary. But something else was stolen from the Garden as well…the secret history of Lucas Trent, the man Midnighter once was!
Collecting Midnighter #1-7, and the free 8-page prelude story.
One of the things that makes Midnighter so compelling in this volume is that no matter how perfect a warrior he is, his emotions aren’t as easy to resolve. After decades of watching gay men attach themselves to each other in comics as if super-glued together, it’s refreshing to see a guy go through a break-up — even one he was wrong about — and start over again. We all did it. Some of us still are. And it makes Midnighter all the more important in how he reflects what so many of us feel in finding ourselves as gay men and deciding what kind of relationship we want to have with another man.
12. Matt Dell
In this case, Matt Dell quickly pops up as that other person. And what a perfect match for M he is. Judgment-free. Supportive without being clingy. Smart. He may not have super-powers, but Matt has a profound effect on Midnighter in this volume. Whether or not he’s M’s next great love after Apollo… well, you’ll need to read the book to find out! Trust me, you want to.
All four titles are in comic shops this Wednesday, and available for order on Amazon.com right now: