2015 has been a big year for queer representation in comics. We’ve seen an explosion of LGBT protagonists in the indie market. We’ve seen some amazing firsts pop up for the community at large. We’ve watched as many publishers embraced gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender characters, just as one big name publisher has chosen to ignore them. But one thing is for certain: that publisher was not DC Comics.
As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look back at the last dozen months of DC Comics, and pick out 12 moments that all of us — LGBT and straight alike — can be proud of. Here’s to much more of the same in 2016!
12. Edie Chacon makes her debut.
Sadly, the Vertigo series didn’t last, but Effigy did something incredible this year. In addition to being one of the few ongoing titles ever to feature an African-American female lead, Tim Seeley and Marley Zarcone’s book introduced a complex transgender character who would linger with us long after the series conclusion at issue #7. Edie is a sex worker, exploited by those around her — as so many transgender people are today. Our hearts stopped when Edie is imprisoned unjustly and we cheered her enthusiasm in helping her oldest friend track down a murderer at the local sci-fi convention. Edie Chacon wasn’t perfect, but she felt real.
11. Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer reunite.
We’re still missing her ongoing series in the regular DC Universe (and hoping for its return in 2016), but we did get a huge dose of retro perfection with Batwoman taking the headlining role in the DC Bombshells weekly digital series from Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage. Set in a war-torn 1940s reality a little bit different than our own, super-heroines rose to fight the threat of Nazi power instead of the men. And at the lead is Kate Kane, war hero and the baseball star known as Batwoman, whose wife Maggie Sawyer is fighting her own battles on the streets with the New York City police. It’s something of a happily ever after that we never got to see in Batwoman’s late ongoing series, and that’s just the beginning of what there is to love about it.
10. Wonder Woman officiates a wedding.
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision this summer legalizing marriage equality in all 50 American states, one of DC’s biggest icons took a bold stand for love and justice. In a story by writer/artist Jason Badower, Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman gave us a day in the life of the Amazon Princess. She hangs out with her boyfriend, stops a war in a foreign land, and unites two women in love and matrimony in the center of Central Park. What could be more perfect?
9. Alpha Centurion reimagined.
A lot of fans probably didn’t remember Alpha Centurion, a short-lived Superman supporting cast character who first appeared in the mid-1990s. But writer Scott Lobdell did, bringing the character back to life alongside artist Javier Fernandez in the six-issue Doomed series this summer. Roommate to the title character, a new generation of Doomsday, Roman may have a secret of his own, but he’s definitely not keeping his sexuality a secret. Out and proud, Roman is the latest in heroes reimagined at DC Comics to reflect a broader demographic of reader — something Lobdell actually pledged to provide back in 2011. And he lived up to his word.
8. Barry Allen gets a roommate.
The Pied Piper might be one of DC’s longest featured gay characters, coming out in the pages of The Flash all the way back in 1990 — twenty-five years ago! While he hasn’t been featured consistently over that period of time, his return to the pages of Barry Allen’s title as the hero’s new roommate may be putting a wrinkle in maintaining the Flash’s secret identity. But creators Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Brett Booth, and Vicente Cifuentes have also given us a chance to see the relationship between Hartley and Barry’s boss David Singh go through its paces. Starting in the sneak peek and culminating in a fantastic kiss in issue #45, we’re so happy to see their relationship receive as much attention in the book as Barry’s own in recent months.
7. Renee Montoya returns.
Speaking of returns, this year saw the revival of long-requested New 52 missing-in-action hero Renee Montoya to the pages of Detective Comics. Brought back to co-headline the title for six issues with partner Harvey Bullock, Renee may not be the Question in this new reality, but she still has the same kick-ass drive she’s always had. Writers Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul, and artist Fernando Blanco made sure of that.
6. Alysia Yeoh gets married.
Batgirl has been a virtual hotbed for diverse representation in the past year, introducing a new multi-cultural cast and key supporting character in bisexual, African-American, woman with a disability Frankie Charles. But the biggest moment yet involved the wedding between characters former writer Gail Simone created: bisexual and transgender Alysia Yeoh and her bisexual fiancee (now wife) Jo. Artist Babs Tarr and writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher ushered in the perfect wedding issue with all of Alysia’s best friends watching as she said her “I do”s in front of all of comicdom. Yeah, there were tears in the offices of Comicosity.
5. Porcelain is genderfluid.
One of the newest members of Gail Simone and Dale Eaglesham’s erstwhile band of mercenaries and rejects in Secret Six, Porcelain is still a bit of a mystery with two exceptions: they have the power to make things brittle at will (the stronger the material, the more brittle it can become with their touch) and they are genderfluid. Presenting some days as female (Kani) and other days as male (Kevin), Porcelain is something of the voice of reason for the Six. And seeing them embraced by even the most conservative of their bandmates definitely was a key moment of acceptance for those with a non-standard gender identity in 2015.
4. John Constantine meets Oliver.
For years, we’ve known John Constantine was bisexual, but it has been exceptionally rare to see his interest rise for anyone outside of the opposite sex. Writer Ray Fawkes made a point of it in the mage’s previous New 52 series, but with Constantine: the Hellblazer, we’re seeing something quite special: John getting flustered over a man. Writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, alongside artist Riley Rossmo, have introduced a new paramour for Constantine, who’s already managed to get himself into hot water. And we don’t mean the shower. Yes, we’re certain this will all end badly (how could it not?), but in the meantime, we’re just going to dreamily think about Oliver and the pretty life he and John could have together before it all unravels.
3. Harley Quinn is queer.
It’s been the intention behind the character for creator Paul Dini as far back as her appearances with Poison Ivy in Batman: the Animated Series, but this year, DC Comics finally confirmed it: Harley Quinn is queer and in a non-monogamous, non-exclusive relationship with Ivy. And we couldn’t be happier. Not only has Harley Quinn consistently been DC’s third top-selling ongoing (which, frankly, as a female-led title, would please us no matter what), but the character is poised for an even more amazing 2016 with a starring role in the Suicide Squad film and a second ongoing, Harley’s Little Black Book. All the hard work writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Chad Hardin have put into portraying Harley’s sexuality with respect, humor, and compassion has paid off big-time.
2. Midnighter kicks (and _____) butts.
Yeah. It’s hot. And full of action, in pants and out. Like no other book before it, Steve Orlando, ACO, and Stephen Mooney’s Midnighter has become one of the most critically-beloved titles in the company’s entire DC You initiative. The art is fresh. The stories are surprisingly heartfelt and compelling. And M (as his boyfriends call him) represents something we surprisingly almost never see in comics: the single gay man. Seriously. Name the last gay super-hero that didn’t end up in a long-term relationship almost immediately. Even Alan Scott merged with his dead fiance. That’s how un-single gay men have been in comics. Well, enough of that. If you haven’t been reading Midnighter, time to catch up with the inaugural story arc, perfectly titled “Out.”
1. Catwoman comes out.
Look. Nothing says commitment to queer representation like letting years of fan speculation and writer innuendo get formalized on the page, especially when it’s for one of your company’s most famous A-list characters. Were any of us surprised Catwoman is bisexual? Maybe. Maybe not. But were we impressed with the bravado and heart writer Genevieve Valentine, artist Garry Brown, and DC Comics as a whole showed with bringing Selina’s now-most-famous kiss to the public this year? Absolutely. Add to that the creation of a brand new queer woman of color in Selina’s ill-fated love Eiko, and we have just a few of the brilliant elements that made us love this year of Catwoman so much.
Hurrah and congratulations to Selina Kyle, and congratulations to DC Comics. You’ve done us proud.
Don’t miss the rest of the best of 2015:
Best Single Issue
Best Graphic Novel
Best Holy $#*! Moments