With Pride comes June. With June comes summer. With summer comes the necessity for plenty of beach/park/poolside reading material. If you are a geek looking to get your Pride on by celebrating some of the great LGBT creators and stories in the comic book world, you have to look no further than the "new release" wall in your local comic book shop. Now, prepare to let your geek flag fly proud and free with this summer reading list...
Jem and the Holograms #1- :
What is it? If you were one of the countless folks who were left feeling like this after watching the Jem and the Holograms movie trailer, IDW's ongoing series of the same name will right that wrong. The creative team of Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell have successfully managed to capture everything wonderfully nostalgic about the 80s animated series while still keeping things fresh and fun.
What's queer about it? It's Jem and the Holograms. Is there really more that needs to be said? Yes? Okay. The adorable budding romance between Kimber and Stormer is fantastic in that it not only adds a queer element to an already fabulous book full of neon and glitter, it also fans the drama flames that keep the rivalry between the Misfits and the Holograms going strong.
X-Tinction Agenda #1- :
What is it? Marvel's Secret Wars is in full swing and with its patchwork setting comes a bevy of inhabitants pulled from the remnants of destroyed universes. One such group of characters dwell in a version of the mutant sanctuary, Genosha, where Havok and Wolfsbane remain on the island following the defeat of Cameron Hodge.
What's queer about it? Marc Guggenheim has gathered one of the most LGBT-centric teams since Kieron Gillen's Young Avengers. The first issue and Carmine Di Giandomenico's character designs feature the likes of Xi'an Coy Manh (Karma), Julio Esteban Richter (Rictor), Victor Borkowski (Anole), Jonas Graymalkin (Graymalkin), and Raven Darkholme (Mystique). Queer characters aside, the mutants of the Marvel Universe have always symbolically stood in for any oppressed minority, namely the LGBT community.
Convergence - The Question #1-2:
What is is? Marvel's Secret Wars is not the only big, multiverse-in-chaos storyline on the "new release" shelves. DC's Convergence has just wrapped up and the tie-in miniseries, Convergence - The Question, featured pre-Flashpoint versions of Renee Montoya (The Question) and Kate Kane (Batwoman). Together, with the aid of Helena Bertinelli (Huntress), the heroines deal with Two-Face as he comes face(s)-to-face(s) with... Two Face.
What's queer about it? Readers who will always ship Batwoman with Renee will agree that seeing the fiery-haired knight back in Greg Rucka's capable hands is like a cold drink of water on a sweltering day. Not only do the women have their relationship baggage to deal with in the midst of this crisis, Kate also questions the ambiguous coupling and living situation of her ex-girlfriend and Helena. If that isn't enough, Renee is trying to come to terms with a dying parent who may never accept her as she is.
Captain Marvel #15:
What is it? Kelly Sue DeConnick's recent run on Captain Marvel sees Carol Danvers not only leave her plush digs in Lady Liberty's crown, but also the planet Earth. Unfortunately, that means leaving behind the many close friendships she has made over the years. One such relationship is with brass and sassy photojournalist, Tracy Burke. In this final issue leading into the events of Secret Wars, Carol returns home and immediately receives news regarding her mentor's health.
What's queer about it? Kelly Sue and artist, David Lopez, have a sickening ability to bring forth the intense emotional connections between their characters. With that said, it is recommended to have a box of Kleenex handy for this one. Much of the story is a flashback that takes us through Tracy's life. As Carol deals with her own grief, we learn about Tracy's heartbreaking loss that followed falling in love with her partner.
A-Force #1- :
What is it? Off the coast of Battleworld's shores sits Arcadia, an island protected by Earth's mightiest heroes, the women of A-Force. With only one issue in, Marvel's newest ongoing series to spin out of Secret Wars has already earned writers G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett critical acclaim. Fresh out of the gate, She-Hulk's team has battled a magalodon and bid a tearful farewell to a teammate. The series looks to be the perfect balance of action and drama.
What's queer about it? If a team of strong female characters isn't enough to seal a devoted gay following, adding LGBT favorites, America Chavez and the female Loki, to the roster should solidify it. Also, set to join the team is a new cosmic character named Singularity. Based on past interviews with G. Willow Wilson, Singularity is a pocket universe that gains sentience during the multiversal collapse. Singularity's arrival on Arcadia and her decision to manifest as a woman will usher in the discussion of gender fluidity.
Kaptara #1- :
What is it? Think Buck Rogers meets Flash Gordon taking place on planet with no sexuality stigma. The newest title from Chip Zdarsky for Image sees protagonist Keith Kanga, a man whose idea of adventure lies solely in a science lab, and his crew crash land on the planet Kaptara. If Eternia and the island of Dr. Moreau somehow morphed into one beautifully bizarre world, it would be Kaptara.
What's queer about it? Chip Zdarsky once referred to Kaptara as gay Saga. In addition to a gay male lead who is already out (thus avoiding the obnoxious "this character is secretly gay" pitfalls), Readers have been promised developing stories with not only Keith's quest, but also his romantic life. Oh, and gay aliens. Allegedly, there will be tons of gay aliens.
Angela: Asgard's Assassin #1-6:
What is it? Following the events of Age of Ultron, the tear in space and time brought Neil Gaiman's Spawn character, Angela, into the Marvel Universe. Since her arrival, she has spent most of her time searching for her place in the world by teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy. In an interesting twist, if not polarizing amongst readers, it was revealed that Angela is the long lost daughter of Asgard's Odin and Freyja.
What's queer about it? At the start of Angela's solo series, readers will meet her companion Sera. Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett do a wonderful job of expounding on the devotion that these women have for each other while Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans provide some of the most breathtaking visuals in the medium today. The revelation that Sera is transgender seems like such a minute detail in the big picture that is her (platonic?) relationship with Angela.
Midnighter #1- :
What is it? DC has breathed new life into Wildstorm's Midnighter and the character has just debuted in a brand new ongoing series. The action packed first issue finds the titular vigilante pummeling bad guys and drowning his frustrations in a Boston dive bar... all while trying to get his date and schtupp on with a handsome stranger.
What's queer about it? Aside from receiving his powers via bioengineering and cybernetic implants, Midnighter also receives comparisons to Batman. Oh, and he is gay. This marks the first solo ongoing series from DC that stars a gay male lead. That fact is almost enough to make one forget about that PR nightmare that was the Batwoman marriage debacle. Almost. Perhaps the truly refreshing aspect of Midnighter is that there is no sense of a gimmick with regards to the hero's orientation. It is presented in a reality that seems far more progressive than our own.
If you are looking for seaside reading material that is a little more meaty, your local comic book shop should be well stocked up on older trade collections. Here are some recommendations to peruse for the first time or revisit.
Astonishing X-Men - Northstar: Marjorie Liu is a treasure to the comic book world. Her work on titles like X-23 and NYX: No Way Home is absolutely wonderful. Her initial arc on Astonishing X-Men saw Canadian superhero, Northstar, marry his longtime partner, Kyle Jinadu. The Northstar collected volume of Astonishing X-Men not only features 2012's wedding of the year and a battle with the Marauders, it also includes Northstar/Kyle-centric material from the Nation X anthology series and issue #106 of Alpha Flight in which Northstar publicly comes out of the closet.
Young Avengers Omnibus: Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's epic run on Young Avengers has been collected into its own omnibus and it should be part of every gay geek's shelf porn. Compelling storytelling and stellar artwork from the creative team of The Wicked + The Divine aside, Young Avengers is one of those delightful reads where one cannot help but cheer, chuckle, and sob out loud as the story progresses. By the book's conclusion, the team really may just be the gayest team in the Avengers' history. Oh, and be sure to pull together the Young Avengers afterparty playlist. You'll be thankful that you did.
X-Treme X-Men - Mekanix: Chris Claremont's 2002-2003 series, Mekanix, takes place during the time just following Cassandra Nova's genocidal attack on the mutant island of Genosha. The book finds Kitty Pryde bartending in Chicago while attending college and trying to distance herself from the X-Men. Unfortunately, bigotry is not just exclusive to Westchester and New York City and Kitty soon finds herself up against the hate group, Purity. As luck would have it, her path crosses with that of her friend and fellow mutant, Karma.
Fearless Defenders - Doom Maidens and The Most Fabulous Fighting Team of All: Love it. Hate it. Marvel readers fall into one of two camps when it comes to Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney's Fearless Defenders. Approaching it with the mindset that the book is nothing but a fun ride with a group of badass superheroines fighting a group of badass villainesses (think G.L.O.W.), makes the story so much more enjoyable. The series can also be credited as having one of the most diverse fighting teams in recent years.
Feel free to sound off in the comments or on Twitter to share your summer reading suggestions! The library is OPEN!
Follow Shaun N. on Twitter at @datura1979.