LGBT+ characters were largely absent in mainstream comics or they were just hinted at to avoid censorship or angry outcries from readers. Over the years, audiences were slowly introduced to LGBT+ characters in the comics as censorship and publishers allowed writers to explore themes. Extrano from DC in 1988 and Northstar from Marvel in 1992 were the first openly gay characters in comic books.
Love is love after all in the end and good stories do go on. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the best LGBT+ couples in comic books.
1. Apollo and Midnighter
For fans who have long wanted to see Batman and Superman get together, meet one of the coolest LGBT+ couples in comic book history. The characters were created by Warren Ellis and were absorbed into DC. Midnighter is just your average Batman with a supercomputer for a brain and enhanced reflexes and Apollo is a literal sun-god who is the result of alien experimentation. Together, they’re unstoppable and their relationship just clicks. They challenge stereotypes by exhibiting their affections for each other in a very machismo fashion.
2. Maggie Sawyer and Batwoman
One is a hard-nosed Metropolis City cop-turned-vigilante. Another is an heiress-turned-vigilante. And yet, Maggie Sawyer and Kate Kane make perfect sense together. Maggie Sawyer is transferred from Metropolis to Gotham to work at the Special Crimes Unit while Kate, who has been dishonorably discharged from the military, uses her wealth to fight crime as Batwoman. These two, strong-willed women with similar ideals were very nearly married until there were editorial interferences and an eventual retcon.
3. Rictor and Shatterstar
The X-Men universe, a part of Marvel’s mainstream universe is wonderfully representative of all forms of diversity. One of the most-talked-about romances as far as comic books go is between that of Gaveedra- Seven and Julio Esteban Richter. In X-Factor #45, the pair kissed, making it the first male-male kiss in mainstream Marvel Comics. It became a very important moment for Marvel fans as well as fans of representation everywhere.
4. Karolina and Xavin
The Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan became one of the best comics from Marvel in the 2000s. One of the coolest things Vaughan did was to introduce a love interest for the character Karolina Dean. Karolina was an alien from a race called the Majesdanians. But she identified as a lesbian. Enter Xavin, a Skrull prince, her betrothed. She refused Xavin’s proposal admitting that she was a lesbian and could not marry a man. Xavin saw this as no challenge and shapeshifted into a female Skrull, revealing that Skrulls could change their biological sex. The relationship ended after a while however when Xavin left the planet, sacrificing themselves to save the planet and Karolina. Karolina later began dating Julie Power of the Power Pack.
5. Shrinking Violet and Lightning Lass
The 80s were not the best time to identify as anything other than heterosexual. Shrinking Violet (Salu Digby) and Lightning Lass (Ayla Arden) were celebrated members of the Legion of Superheroes. They dated Duplicate Boy and Timber Wolf respectively. For quite a while there was drama and a lot of what-ifs. Writers still kept it vague but dropped hints about their relationship until 1993 where it was finally more explicit. They cared about each other deeply and were coping with the destruction of the earth. A couple of years later, the relationship was established but it was still chaste and writers wanted more. Perhaps with Bendis’ current take, we might see something new between them,
6. Thunder and Grace
Grace Choi is an Asian-American woman descended from Wonder Woman’s Amazons, possessing strength, durability, endurance, and shape-shifting, going on to become an integral part of DC’s Outsiders. Anissa Pierce or Thunder is the daughter of Jefferson Pierce, Black Lightning. They have been through a lot together including Anissa even falling into a coma. But they survived that and moved in together. Hopefully, they have a happy ending.
7. Mystique and Destiny
Mystique and Destiny were intended to be lovers as far back as 1981 by Chris Claremont but the comics code forbade it. They were written as the only members of the Brotherhood of Mutants who considered each other friends. At one point, Mystique even transformed herself to look like a man called Eric Raven so they could hide their relationship from the world, something beautifully sad and poignant. Mystique and Destiny were even responsible for raising one of Marvel’s favorite mutants- Rogue.
8. Moondragon and Quasar
Moondragon and Quasar are an absolute power couple. Moondragon, originally Heather Douglas, daughter of Art Douglas who would go on to become Drax. She was found and trained by Thanos’ father, Mentor, becoming a highly trained telepath and combatant. Phyla-Vell, the daughter of Mar-Vell also known as Captain Marvel became entangled in a complicated cosmic affair involving the entity called Magus. When we said power couple- we meant it. Phyla is the new Quasar- a title meant for the protector of the universe. Heather almost became the dragon of the moon but they still stuck together. They’re still happily together, chasing new adventures.
9. Ayo and Aneka
Ayo and Aneka are important on this list as they feature in the first Marvel Comic that was authored by two black women- Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey. The series was the Eisner-winning World of Wakanda. One of the main plots of the story follows the growing relationship between Ayo and Aneka, two of the Black Panther’s Dora Milaje. The story follows these powerful black women against the backdrop of Wakandan culture and political intrigue and how they stayed together despite all the threats.
10. Hulking and Wiccan
How could we not feature one of Marvel’s most beloved couples? Billy Kaplan also known as Wiccan and Ted Altman who goes by Hulking, have been together ever since their debut in the Young Avengers. These two have gone from strength to strength and as the recent Empyre event has revealed: have even tied the knot. They’ve seen the worst of it and also enjoy lovely chemistry between them and they genuinely care for one another. Here’s hoping they’re back together soon.