Superheroes meant a great deal to my sense of queer identity when I was growing up. The men were rarely drawn as sex symbols, but their athleticism and close male friendships were as close to homoeroticism as the culture allowed me. The presence of strange outsider heroes like Cloak and Dagger, the X-Men, and even DP7, combined with the fantasy of superhuman champions fighting on behalf of the weak and oppressed, made superheroes integral to my sense of self-worth when everything else conspired to tell me I was worthless.
With this new series of columns, 'Super', I'm going to look at some of the questions arising at the intersection of LGBTQ identity and superhero fiction, starting with a really vital one. Why isn't there a gay Ms Marvel?
You know how much we love cosplay at ComicsAlliance; we put a spotlight on it every week. Fans who create their own costumes and dress up as their favorite heroes are some of the most passionate and enthusiastic people in comics, and the level of talent and committment on display at conventions seems to get more impressive every year. If there isn't a Carol Corps cosplay meet-up or a whole dang Spider-Verse at a show, you'll probably go home disappointed.
So it's great to see Marvel paying tribute to these fans with a selection of cosplay variant covers on several of its All-New All-Different launches this fall. The Marvel Cosplay variants place fans of Spider-Gwen, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Thor (both versions) and more on the covers of the books they love. Cosplay connoisseurs will see some familiar faces among the cosplayers, including Birds of Play's Amanda Lynne Shafer, cosplay legend Yaya Han, and Marvel's own in-house cosplay blogger Judy Stephens as Captain Marvel.
It remains a bleak time for the female comic audience, and for other minority audiences. The recent debacle with Hercules is merely the latest of Marvel’s many ghastly faux pas; for every two steps forward, it seems to take two steps back: it publishes more female titles only to end the majority of them with Secret Wars, and it tantalizes us with Hercules only to promote the status quo inside of continuity.
It is easy to lose faith in the publisher’s ability to reform from within, but Marvel has had the key to equal, positive representation for over fifty years now.
When you think of the term superhero, what instinctively comes to mind? Is it a straight white man with bulging muscles and a scarlet cape? Or a brooding vigilante with an aggressive streak and a heart of gold? Whatever your thoughts on mainstream superheroes, Kamala Khan, otherwise known as Ms. Marvel, effortlessly dismantles them.
Debuting on this day in 2013 in a cameo in the pages of Captain Marvel, the Pakistani American Muslim teenager quickly became one of the most honest and relatable heroes in the Marvel pantheon.
Our round-up of the All-New All-Different Marvel titles concludes with the books that don't quite fit anywhere else. This is the catch-all category that Marvel tends to call things like 'Marvel Universe', or 'Marvel Knights', or 'Marvel Heroes'. That makes this sound like a clearing house, and the presence of Agents of SHIELD supports that case, but you'll also find some of Marvel's most important titles here; titles that just don't quite fit elsewhere.
As readers will know from our weekly Best Cosplay Ever feature, we’re big fans of cosplay at ComicsAlliance. The comics, sci-fi, gaming, and fantasy communities have proved time and again their exceptional talents for homemade disguises and superheroic sartorial excellence, and all of their craft and skill will be on display this weekend at HeroesCon. Our chief cosplay correspondent Betty Felon is on hand to document as much of it as she can.
Scroll down for some of the very finest cosplay from HeroesCon!
Publishers Weekly released findings from their comics retailer survey last week, and once more all signs point to growth, particularly in regards to female readers. This is great news not just for people who care about representation in comics, but for people who care about the health of the comics industry. An influx of younger readers of any gender is what the comics industry needs so that publishers can engage them and keep them reading for years to come. It seems like a wide variety of publishers are getting this job done.
Today the 2015 Eisner nominations were announced for the awards ceremony that will take place on July 10th during San Diego Comic-Con International. There aren't a ton of surprises in this year's list --- books like Ms. Marvel, Saga, Multiversity, and Bandette led in terms of total nominations --- but as always it's good to see quality books get their due, and it was a year of positive movement in terms of gender diversity, with multiple women nominated in most major categories. We still have a ways to go, but seeing progress is a good sign.
Kamala Khan is a superstar now. Introduced only a year ago by Marvel, she’s become a bona fide figurehead for the publisher. A young Muslim girl in America who develops powers and uses them to try and help people, her story has caught on with a mainstream audience and turned the Ms Marvel series into a real, actual hit, especially among the growing digital readership.
What’s fascinating about the character, though, is how clearly she’s embedded into the tradition of superhero comics, and how you can draw a direct line from her back through Marvel’s history, to some of the company's most popular female superheroes. Kamala broke through at just the right moment in time, in just the right way, for the readership to embrace her, but she owes a debt to several characters that came before her.
In March, ComiXology had a buy one, get one free sale on Marvel titles, where you could literally buy any of the Marvel issues in their store. This morning they announced that, during that sale, seven out of the top ten comics sold were books with female heroes. Titles that did well include Thor, Silk, and Ms. Marvel. In fact, the only titles on the list that weren't led by a female hero were three Star Wars titles - Star Wars #1 and #2 and Darth Vader #1. The top ten list was pulled from thousands of comics sold during the sale.
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