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BATTLE: The Best LGBTQ Characters In Comics

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BRANDY: As a comics nerd and a proud member of the LGTBQA+ community, there aren't a lot of characters whose sexuality I can relate to in my favorite entertainment medium. With the tragedy in Orlando, as well as it being Pride month, I wanted to celebrate the representation we do have in comics by having Steve and I highlight our favorite LGTBQ characters in the medium. My first one isn't a superhero in the traditional sense, but she will always and forever be my favorite...

 

Katchoo (Katrina Choovanski), Strangers In Paradise

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BRANDY: Strangers In Paradise is a beautiful story of two women in love.  It also features the Yakuza, drugs, government conspiracies, vengeance, female assassins, prostitution, murder, and a dude straight up getting his face nearly torn off from his nostrils. At the heart of the saga is Katchoo, a former drug addict and sex worker on the run from the mob. She runs into and falls in love with her (straight) best friend, Francine. Katchoo is a brilliantly written character. Flawed, beautiful, and complex, Katchoo is dangerous, angry, and deeply wounded from her dark past. She's equal parts tender, funny, fearless, and brutal, and her fierce, undying love for Francine is one of comics' great romances. Terry Moore writes women better than most men could- because he writes them like actual people. While this sounds condescending and simplistic, it's not. Many otherwise great male writers in comics really don't understand women, and it comes across heavily in the way they treat (and mistreat) them in their stories. Katchoo is not only one of the most well-written lesbian characters in comics, she's one of the most well-written characters of any exuality or gender identity across the medium. What do you think, Steve? Did I cheat by going with a character in a known LGTBQ story?

STEVE: Not at all, especially not one as well written and lovingly crafted as Katchoo. I'm gonna go more mainstream for my first pick, however...

 

Kate Kane/Batwoman

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STEVE: One of the best things to come out of the New 52 was the solo title for Katherine Kane's Batwoman, reinventing a long-dormant member of the Batverse thanks to the help of Alex Ross. While Kate's sexuality is secondary to her vigilantism, it was a ballsy move for DC to make a lesbian such a high profile part of their relaunch. Putting Kate into a relationship with another high profile LGBT DC character, Renee Montoya, seemed a bit on the nose, but the writers gave their love story a couple of appropriately brutal twists that kept things interesting. Seeing Gotham City from the point of view of a non-hetero normative character was refreshing, and I hope Kate continues to be an integral part of the DCU moving forward. I know you've gotta be a big Kate Kane fan, Brandy, but was she too obvious for my first pick?

BRANDY: Obvious? Maybe, but she's damned awesome and I love her. Speaking of obvious, we need to mention...

 

Northstar

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BRANDY: Here's where my Canadian pride ramps up. Jean-Paul Baubier, member of Canadian superteam Alpha Flight, is one of the first openly gay superheroes in mainstream comics, the first openly gay character to come out in a book from Marvel, and was a part of the first depiction of a same-sex marriage in mainstream comics when he married his partner Kyle in Astonishing X-Men #51. His coming-out was a beautiful story, as well—after adopting an abandoned baby girl who, weeks later, passes away from AIDS she had contracted in the womb, Northstar comes out to the public as gay, hoping that his celebrity will help increase awareness on HIV/AIDS safety and prevention. What else have you got, Steve?

STEVE: That storyline gutted me. Man, what a great way to push this character into the spotlight once again. How about...

 

Wallace Wells, Scott Pilgrim vs the World

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STEVE: One of my favorite things about Brian O'Malley's brilliant Scott Pilgrim vs the World—as well as Edgar Wright's mind-blowing film adaptation—is how knowingly it subverts stereotypes. Take Scott's roommate Wallace Wells for example. He's by far the most giving character in the entire series, and one of the only people to whom Scott will actually listen. He parties hard and refers to Scott as "his bitch forever," but he's also the most relatable character among Scott's inner circle. Giving heterosexual readers a gay character with whom they can relate is a huge step forward for progress, and whether you like your Wallace in black and white or in full Keiran Culkin color, he's just about one of the best LGBT characters in all of comics. What do you think, Brandy? Do you like Wallace as much as I do, or does he get on your nerves?

BRANDY:  Wallace and Kim Pine were straight up the only palatable personalities in that entire series. Scott is a douche canoe who does not deserve any of the good things that happen to him, and Ramona Flowers is a caricature of a woman who only exists to be a glorified trophy with boobs. Also, if any woman tells you that to be with her, you have to FIGHT HER EXES, run. Run fast and run far and don't look back. But this isn't about my long-standing ire with Scott Pilgrim, this is about LGTBQ characters. And since we haven't included any trans* characters on this list, how about...

 

Cassandra, The Wicked + The Divine

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BRANDY: The Wicked + The Divine is a fantastic book. Not only is it a great story on fame, celebrity worship, and old gods, with some visceral sex, drugs, and death thrown in, there's tons of representation for POCs and the LGTBQ community. Cassandra/Uror, a transgender journalist turned god, doesn't have her gender identity used as a plot point, but it IS something she carries with her at all times and it affects the way she interacts with all the other characters. Kieron Gillen really nails it with Cassandra- she's a complex, interesting character and has a rich identity apart from "token transgendered character". And to give her a main character role- that's something that hasn't happened much in comics. What do you think of Cassandra, Steve?

STEVE: LOVE HER! I got turned onto this series at my old job and loved every second of it, and Cassandra is probably my second favorite character next to Lucifer. Speaking of Cassandra... 

 

Cassie Hack, Hack/Slash 

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STEVE: I can't really be partial since the theatre company I used to work with did an adaptation of this series back in 2005, and I've since become friends with series creator Tim Seeley, so it's almost impossible for me to not include Cassie. The sole survivor of a high school massacre perpetrated by her own mother, Cassie is every super villain's worst nightmare: an ass-kicking token "last girl" who has no time for your super villain shit. Her sexuality has never really come to the forefront in the comics, but she's always carried the torch for Maggie Crump, aka Georgia Peaches, and even fantasized about kissing her in one issue. If I were a young person wrestling with the expectations surrounding where I fit in, I'd look to Cassie as a role model for not giving a fuck and kicking ass while doing so. What do you think, Brandy? Is Cassie too much of the typical male lesbian fantasy to stand on her own merits as a strong LGTBQ character?

BRANDY: I'll admit, Cassie is problematic for me. I love her, and I adore Hack/Slash, but she definitely does come off as a little too much "hot dangerous lesbo" trope. My next one is pretty broad...

 

The Entire Cast of Lumberjanes

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BRANDY: Created by women and entirely about women, Lumberjanes is a story of a bunch of ladies who attend Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types—basically, a summer camp.  They call themselves the Lumberjane scouts, and the book was nominated for Best Comic Book in the 2015 GLAAD awards.  Jo, the main character, is a transgender girl, and many of the main characters, like Mal and Molly, are queer.  Plus, the book is tons of fun to read.  Have you checked this one out, Steve?

STEVE: I haven't, but I just picked up the first trade for under $10 on Amazon. Amazon: They're not endorsing us, but they should be. Alright, I think that does it, aside from an obligatory mention of Hulkling. Anyone we missed? Any other great titles we should be reading? Let us know in the comments section below!


Brandy dawley

Brandy Dawley

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