This week, Marvel has once again requested the honor of your presence at the wedding of two characters, and while a super-hero marriage is always a pretty big affair, this one is going a little further. In tomorrow's Astonishing X-Men #50, Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins are telling the story of Northstar's proposal to his long-time boyfriend Kyle, with a wedding set to follow in next month's issue.In 1992's Alpha Flight #106, Northstar became the first major openly gay character in Marvel Comics, and while the issue was full of the kind of over-the-top, tooth-gritting bombast that was typical of the era...

... it was a pretty big step. Even though there was very little mention of his sexuality for the next few years after he came out, it paved the way for a larger presence of gay characters in super-hero comics that would lead to DC's Renee Montoya and Batwoman, and even Archie's Kevin Keller.

It's not surprising that Northstar's sexuality would play a big part in his role in the X-Men franchise, either. The series has always worked best as a metaphor for civil rights, and Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson's God Loves, Man Kills and its story of a fiery preacher who declared mutants to be an abomination in the eyes of God marked a big shift in focusing that metaphor on the struggles of the gay community. With Northstar, however, the metaphor was made literal, and his upcoming marriage is an extension of that.

Kyle, Northstar's husband-to-be, was introduced by Matt Fraction and Greg Land in 2009's Uncanny X-Men #509, and while the two have had their struggles over the past few years (what with Northstar having to fly off at a moment's notice and deal with alien invasions, planet-destroying Celestials and the occasional attack by genocidal robots), they've made it through. Considering what they've been through on that front, married life ought to be a snap -- even if the actual wedding takes the usual comic book tactic of being a golden opportunity for super-villain attacks.

I do find it interesting, however, that Northstar and Kyle are planning on getting hitched in New York rather than Northstar's native Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005. But as always, New York City remains the center of the Marvel Universe, and the symbolism of two characters getting married in the "real-world" American city at the heart of their comics is a nice touch that adds to the optimism of the celebration.

The proposal happens in Astonishing X-Men #50, on sale tomorrow, with a wedding date set for #51, on sale June 20. And the best thing about a comic book wedding is that formalwear isn't required to attend.

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