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Joss Whedon

Whedonverse in the 50 comics and characters that resonate with LGBT readers

Tuesday 10 July 2012, by Webmaster

24. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

By Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty et al. Published by Dark Horse.

The TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer already earned a queer following in part because of the presence of a female action hero lead, but also because it put the gay character Willow and her relationships at the centre of its later seasons. In the comic that continues the show’s narrative, Buffy has ventured into new territory.

"Not only has this series featured several different lesbian characters (Willow, Tara, and Kennedy), but it also went so far as to allow its main character, Buffy, to experiment with a same-sex encounter," said Anna Stiffler. "Besides the LGBT appearances, I’ve long been a fan of the Buffy series for portraying a lead female character as strong, complicated, and imperfect. She simply isn’t a cookie-cutter heroine, and the series isn’t afraid to allow its protagonists some very serious flaws."

13. The X-Men

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Titles include Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants, X-Factor, X-Force, New X-Men. Significant contributors include Len Wein, Dave Cockrum, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Brent Anderson, Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson.

The X-Men are comics’ most famous outcasts, born different but sworn to fight for what’s right in a world that persecutes them every day. It’s no wonder that they’ve always found a following in the LGBT community. Doom Patrol writer Rachel Pollack believes the X-Men’s themes are indelibly queer:

"Mutants are not the same as their parents; for most it’s not something visible at birth, it emerges in fact in adolescence, when the kid suddenly realizes he or she is not one of ’us’ any more but one of ’them,’ and often the parents turn against him/her. Prof. Xavier’s Academy could easily have been Harvey Milk High School."

Several members of the panel nominated individual X-Men who mattered to them. These included Storm, Rogue, Colossus, Havok, Wolverine and Shadowcat. In some cases, because they were inspirational, and in some cases because they were a young queer reader’s first crush. For Alex Woolfson it was a single story, "God Loves, Man Kills," that had the most power. "[It] was such a clear parable for growing up gay in an oppressive society that assumes you’re straight that it totally felt like it was written just for me."

10. Karolina and Xavin

From The Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona. Published by Marvel.

It’s a remarkable fact that all of Marvel’s teen team books have at least one LGBT character. It’s even retroactively true of titles like the original New Mutants and Power Pack. Credit for that can be split equally between Runaways, Young Avengers and the rebooted New Mutants, which all introduced queer characters in the mid-2000s.

Runaways took an especially interesting approach, not only outing founding member Karolina, but giving her the complication of a gender-shifting lover. This allowed writer Brian K Vaughan to explore questions of sexuality and gender in a way that seemed uniquely suited to superhero comics, and it gave Marvel its second most popular queer teen couple.

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