Comics Alliance Presents The Queer Superteam Fantasy Draft [Pride Week]
There was a time not so long ago when one could count off all the LGBTQ superheroes at Marvel and DC on the fingers of one hand. We’ve seen an increasing number of queer heroes make their debuts in recent years, and a few established heroes have come out as LGBTQ, but the number of queer superheroes at the Big Two in any given month is still sometimes small enough to count on one hand.
To celebrate Pride, and the many LGBTQ heroes that have appeared at Marvel and DC over the years, we’ve assembled a panel of ComicsAlliance contributors to hold a fantasy draft. Our writers will take turns building up seven-member dream teams of LGBTQ superheroes from the ranks of both publishers.
Each contributor has to pick at least two characters from Marvel and two from DC, and two characters that primarily identify as male and two that primarily identify as female. Each contributor also gets one wildcard; a Marvel or DC character not previously established as LGBTQ, who they want to give a queer identity. This is the ComicsAlliance Queer Superteam Fantasy Draft!
The panelists are Kieran Shiach, Katie Schenkel, Tara Marie, Elle Collins, and Andrew Wheeler. After putting everyone's names in a hat, our first pick goes to Kieran.
Kieran: There’s a lot of pressure that comes with the first pick, and I feel like this was the opportunity to choose someone that everyone is probably after. With that in mind, my first pick goes to The Midnighter, who isn’t just one of my favorite LGBT characters, he’s one of my favorite superheroes full stop.
Katie: Man, right out of the gate and already Kieran has nabbed one of my top picks! I can tell this fantasy draft is going to be brutal. Well, for my first pick I’m going to chose a Marvel fan favorite who doesn’t get nearly enough focus. She’s smart, sharp-witted, and is in much need of a solo series --- the one, the only, Ms. America Chavez.
Kieran: My #1 pick was pretty much a toss-up between Midnighter and America, so I’m not surprised they’re the first two to go.
Elle: Ms. America was absolutely my first choice, but it’s no surprise she was everybody else’s too.
Andrew: Great picks! This is going to be tough.
Tara Marie: Ooo, this is tough. All right, for my first pick, I’m going to follow my heart instead of my brain. I’m going with Promethea from Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics line. While there’s a lot of fantastic choices, Promethea was always my number one. What can I say, I have a soft spot for magical girls. Plus, come on, she brings about an apocalypse.
Elle: Promethea’s a great pick. I definitely still have a soft spot for that book, and ABC in general, really.
For my first choice, I’m going to try to play smart and pick someone who I expect to get snapped up quickly. I’m going with Loki, everybody’s favorite genderfluid, pansexual chaos god. Marvel has never let Loki be as queer as I’d like to see him be, but then that’s true of every queer Marvel character. (And of course in the movies, he doesn’t get to be overtly queer at all, although you can’t tell me he doesn’t read that way.) My preferred Loki is the post-Young Avengers “Agent of Asgard” version. Often a liar, occasionally a hero, sometimes a girl.
Andrew: So many heavy hitters swept up in the first round! I’m going to have to play tactical here and sweep one up for myself; a character with style, status and complexity. I’m grabbing Batwoman, aka Kate Kane, one of the few queer heroes to carry her own solo series, and a woman who I feel pretty confident can lead a team to victory. Kate is incredibly compelling, and that red and black costume is one of the best.
Kieran: I worry that I’m going to upset the game for Andrew, the man who writes my checks, but my second pick has to be Hercules. Herc was a character that I gravitated to right away when I first started reading comics, and I had to have him on my list as one of the oldest and most storied LGBT superheroes, not just in comics, but in all fiction.
Andrew: I definitely would have picked Herc if it looked like no-one else was going to, but the important thing to me was that someone picks him, because even if Marvel sometimes forgets that he’s bi, we never will.
Katie: My second is Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. Genevieve Valentine’s run last year confirmed Selina is bi, and her version of the character was so brilliantly done, so in my mind that’s the version of Selina that’s on my fantasy team. She’s one of the most iconic female characters in DC’s long history, and a childhood favorite of mine back in her Batman: The Animated Series days. The fact that she is canonically bi means the world to me.
Tara Marie: I loved the confusing, silly, sometimes stupid Brian Michael Bendis run of All-New X-Men, so I'm going with Bobby Drake, AKA Iceman. While that series alone has, what, five different versions, I'm going with the Old Man Bobby version from the future. I love the idea of a young, silly character turning into a Gandalf-esque still-just-as-silly mentor. And he can make sentient copies of himself? How cool is that?
While initially the revelation of Iceman's sexuality seemed a bit wibbly-wobbly --- young Iceman is gay? but what about older Iceman? --- I feel the reveal was ultimately handled really well, with a minimal amount of tears, which is always a good thing.
Elle: I want to grab one more big name here in round two before I retreat to my more obscure faves, so I’m going with Angela. I wasn’t sold on moving her into the Marvel Universe when it happened, but man have I been sold since then. Angel: Queen of Hel was one of my favorite comics of the last year, and it built her up as both an unstoppable warrior and a complex and realistic queer character who’s worth caring about.
Tara Marie: Angela's a great choice. Since your first two picks were Angela and Loki, all I can think about now is a road trip mini-series starring the two of them.
Andrew: I am going to retreat to my more obscure choices already, because look, when it comes to A-list LGBTQ heroes, the list still ain't long enough, and I think my second round pick is the creme de la creme of B-list queer heroes, so I'll be furious with myself if I miss my shot.
I'm talking here about one of my all-time favorite characters, a psychic martial artist trained by moon monks, the erstwhile Madame MacEvil, the greatest of all Guardians of the Galaxy, the one-and-only badass baldie, Moondragon. She’s such an oddity that writers seem scared to use her, but I think she’s the absolute best.
Elle: Aw, I totally wanted Moondragon for my team! I’ve loved her since she was a Defender, back when her queerness was only subtextual. She’s so great.
Kieran: I’m going to be first to play my wildcard here, and choose Wonder Woman. There are LGBT incarnations of the character in other universes, but I’m talking specifically, Earth-0 Wonder Woman. This is Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, and Liam Sharp's Wonder Woman that you’ll read about twice a month in a comic simply titled Wonder Woman. I think she’s a character we’d all like to see confirmed as queer, but DC is never going to do it, so I’ve got to have her on my team as the wildcard.
Also, who doesn’t want to read Marvel’s Hercules interacting with Wonder Woman?
Katie: For my third pick, I’m going with a newer character whose queerness was confirmed in her very first appearance --- Frankie Charles, aka the Operator of Burnside. Frankie is one of the cooler characters to come out of the recent Batgirl run, and her arc since learning her best friend was a superhero has been all about proving that she has what it takes to be a hero in her own right, in her own way. She’s also one of the rare queer heroines of color with a disability that either of the Big Two have, and I’m really hoping we see more of her once Barbara is done with her trip abroad in the first Rebirth arc of Batgirl.
Tara Marie: For my third choice, I'm going with Constantine. I was going back and forth between who I wanted to be the trickster on my team (every team needs a trickster) but Constantine clinched it. While his Hellblazer run is critically-acclaimed and noteworthy and great, it's the James Tynion IV and Ming Doyle-written series Constantine: The Hellblazer that won me over. A bisexual, somewhat amoral, manipulative magic user who's sexy as hell? Yes, please.
Elle: You know what? I picked Angela last round, so I’m going to go ahead and pick Sera. I’m not usually a big fan of queer characters always being in committed long-term relationships, but Angela and Sera belong together, and if Sera’s not on the team, sooner or later Angela’s just going to quit to go looking for her. Plus, Sera is one of the only trans women of color in comics, and she’s pretty darn awesome.
Tara Marie: I almost picked Sera this round, but I'm glad I held off. Her and Angela do belong together.
Katie: Dangit, I wanted to snag Sera. I liked Angela a lot, but Sera was the most fun. And she broke the fourth wall, which was especially fun in Witch Hunter.
Andrew: OK, it's time for me to pick from a favorite category of mine, "handsome Marvel boys who kiss other boys and should get more page time". There's at least a half dozen characters to choose from, but if I could only have one... it's going to be Shatterstar.
Yeah, the character's seen as a bit of a '90s joke, but I think the sword-slinging space gladiator has a lot of potential. If you want to get into the semiotics of it all, he's sort of a totemic representation of the queering of bro culture, the erosion of "no homo" machismo with vulnerable romantic yearning and homoerotic sexual awakening. He’s toxic masculinity giving way to queer love, and I am down for that. Plus, he's a hot redhead.
Kieran: Most of my picks so far have been sort of selfish in that they’re important characters I want on my team before anyone else can pick them, so I’m going to go for a character I just like a whole lot who isn’t a heavy-hitter or a fan-favorite. The new Giant Man, Raz Malhotra. I wanted to think about how my team operates as a team, rather than picking seven well-known characters and calling it a day, and I love the visual of the tallest, most imposing person on the roster being the rookie who is scared of (literally) putting a foot wrong.
Katie: I haven’t picked any men so far, and I still have one more Marvel pick to make, so I’m going to go with Wiccan. Billy Kaplan has such a cool power set, he’s a fun character to read, and while there were rough spots with Hulking, their relationship is still one of the happier and more stable ones of the Marvel universe.
He’s in New Avengers right now, but I’d love to see Billy get to be in a mother-son book with Scarlet Witch, especially since she’s back in the forefront of the comics right now.
Tara Marie: All right, I'm going with my wildcard pick. Honestly, I was inspired by Kieran's pick of Wonder Woman. She's a character I always read as queer despite there not being any explicit textual evidence for it. Plus, she's a big, kick-ass woman, a great leader, and an awesome role-model. So, I wanted to pick someone that could maybe go toe-to-toe with Wonder Woman, both as a leader and in terms of strength. Which makes my choice kinda obvious...
I'm picking She-Hulk. I just love her.
Elle: Renee Montoya, The Question. I’m actually surprised she’s made it this far into the draft. I liked Renee when she was just a cop, and I even liked the Question when he was a white guy with bad politics. So obviously Renee as the Question has a special place in my heart, which is broken by her absence from the current DC Universe. Also, my whole team so far has been magical characters, so I want to mix it up a bit with a two-fisted street level hero.
Katie: Renee was definitely on my list of potentials until you snatched her up, Elle! I knew her first as one of the key female side characters in Batman: The Animated Series and I was so happy to find out years later that the comics made her a regular feature of the Gotham books.
Andrew: I'm also going to pick my wildcard character this round, and it's a goshdarned doozy, even if I say so myself. I'm picking Mr James Buchanan Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier, aka Bucky. Yes, I'm giving Captain America a boyfriend!
OK, no I'm not, because this isn't a two-for-one deal. But even if Steve has to be straight (for reasons we'll never understand), making Bucky queer enriches his role as a man out of place, a man struggling with his identity, and a man in love with Captain America. I think a queer Bucky is more interesting than a straight one, and I think most of the characters' fans would agree.
Kieran: Next, I’d like to pick Sir Ystin, the Shining Knight. I think comics have only really scratched the surface with Ystin, and I want to see more. Grant Morrison avoided making them canonically trans in Seven Soldiers, and instead fell back on a Mulan-style reveal. They showed up in Demon Knights, where they were eventually revealed as intersex, but they haven’t been in a comic for years now. To be honest, the word “intersex” was only ever used in interviews, and I think instead the creative team was shooting to reveal Shining Knight to be genderfluid, and it always possible that they could be both.
Superhero comics desperately need more characters who don’t adhere to the strict gender binary, and Shining Knight has so much potential just waiting to be tapped. Also, Wonder Woman would immediately take them under her wing and it would be super cute.
Elle: Wow, it now occurs to me that the Shining Knight and Wonder Woman already exist in the same universe, and somehow that interaction (any interaction, as far as I know) has yet to occur. What a fun idea!
Katie: For my next pick, I’ve got to go with the other bi feline of the DCU --- Catman. Gail Simone had mentioned in the past few years that she saw Thomas Blake as bisexual, but it was only in the recent New 52 Secret Six run that she got to make it official in canon.
Catman is cool, something of a bad guy in the traditional sense, but he generally walks the line between villain and hero. The fact that he’s eye candy doesn’t hurt, either. And my fantasy team line-up means that I get to imagine my dream Catwoman/Catman team-up.
Tara Marie: Ha! I'm amazed at how similar mine and Katie's picks are. I'm also going with a bi anti-hero with an animal theme. But mine's from Marvel; the son of Wolverine, Daken Akihiro. A killer, a manipulator, he's Wolverine but without a conscience; a perfect choice for those of us into troubled bad boys. (Which, hi, hello, that's me.) I realize classifying him as an anti-hero rather than a villain might seem off to some, but he's always seemed more of an emo teen throwing a tantrum than an actual evil doer. With the addition of Daken, my team is leaning towards the anti-hero side, and that's my kind of team.
Andrew: I’m glad to see both Catman and Daken making the cut! I had them both on my shortlist, but picking Bucky means I already had my troubled bad boy!
Elle: I’m going with a very personal pick for this round. The Pied Piper was the first character in a comic I read to come out as gay. In fact, he was one of the very first characters in superhero comics to come out at all. He beat Northstar by a couple of months, but I wasn’t an Alpha Flight fan anyway, I was a Flash fan.
That first story, in which Wally West (good natured dudebro that is) is weirded out by his friend being gay at first but comes around by the end, was hugely important to me as a young queer kid. And while I couldn’t have quite told you why, it made the Piper one of my favorite comic book characters. I haven’t been a Flash reader in years, so I don’t know how the Pied Piper fares these days, but the version I want is the one from my childhood, from the Bill Messner-Loebs/Greg LaRocque Flash run. The chubby, good-natured ex-villain who’s easygoing, loyal to his friends, and goes on dates with acclaimed chefs.
Andrew: OK, I’m going to go a little fringe here, I think. My next pick is a character notable more for their unrealized potential and enormous charm than for any particularly rich history. Starling of the Birds of Prey is a New 52 character with only a handful of appearances --- but a passionate fanbase. I totally get why; she’s a gun-toting tattooed vigilante in a corset bustier. She’s a pure pulp character, a Bombshell in the DCU, and I’d love to see her developed further. Birds of Prey gave her a raw deal; it’s time for a comeback.
Kieran: For my penultimate pick, I’m going to go with a legacy character that I only really grew a fondness for when they broke away and found their own identity, and that’s Phyla-Vell, AKA Martyr. I absolutely loved the Martyr costume, and although she did die (her name is Martyr) there’s a huge Phyla-Vell shaped hole in the Marvel Universe and some cool stuff to be done. Imagine her on A-Force? Or on The Ultimates? There’s so much you can with a cosmic character that remains grounded, and it’s time for a comeback.
Katie: For my second-to-last choice, I’m pulling out my wildcard pick for a character whose queerness is so obvious that it’s frustrating no one has confirmed it in the comics. My pick is Starfire, aka Princess Koriand’r of Tamaran.
Kori comes from a polyamorous culture that, while still burdened with some pretty crappy patriarchal viewpoints on political marriage, doesn’t have the same stringent sexual and gender hang-ups of Western culture on Earth. Kori loves Love, and she is very vocal about the people she thinks are beautiful, especially women. With all that context for her character, to have Starfire to only be romantically involved with men throughout her canon seems like a mistake. Personally I could see her being a little confused by the specificity of orientation labels, but ultimately telling her loved ones that pansexual generally fits her point of view.
In any case, Kori as a heroine balances warmth and compassion with being a total powerhouse in battle, which makes her a very cool character to have on my team.
Tara Marie: I'm going to go with Electro for my penultimate pick. I love characters with electric powers, and I think having Electro and Iceman on the same team is a great visual.
Max Dillon's personal life has never had a heavy focus, and the small amount of attention paid to his sexuality has been kind of awful --- because of Mark Millar. Despite that, I really like the idea of including him on my team. Most versions of Electro show him being insecure and not entirely comfortable with himself. I believe that extends to his sexuality as well. I read Electro as someone who is not comfortable in his own skin, someone who --- while he may not hate himself for it --- is uncomfortable with his sexuality.
Adding him to a team of diverse queer folk, some who are just as villainous as he is, provides a great chance for... not redemption, but for him to come to terms with who he is. I love the idea of a self-hating villain accepting who they are, and maybe even becoming a better person for it. Plus, again, electric powers are awesome.
Elle: It’s time for my wildcard pick, and I struggled quite a bit with which female X-Men character I should choose. But I’ve decided on Jubilee. The queer version of Jubilee who appeared in Secret Wars: Runaways was a lot of fun, and that was the point when I realized that the Jubilee of the main Marvel Universe should be queer as well. In fact, I’d like to see her come out as a lesbian. She’s never had a memorable relationship with a guy, and I think she would make a fantastic addition to the all-too-limited ranks of Marvel women who love women.
Andrew: Like Tara Marie, I wanted to pick something of a reclamation project at this point, and when it comes to LGBTQ superheroes, there are sadly quite a few to choose from, ranging from stupid and offensive stereotypes to characters that walked out of the closet and straight into obscurity.
But this guy belongs to a category of his own; Freedom Ring, aka Curtis Doyle, was a Green Lantern analogue in the Marvel universe. Created by Robert Kirkman, the character was both an attempt to create a new gay hero, and an attempt to show that not everyone who gets superpowers is cut out for heroism. Put those two things together and you get... a pretty distressing message. Freedom Ring was brutally murdered on the page shortly after Marvel editor Joe Quesada held the character up as an example of Marvel's committment to queer inclusion. Not great, Bob.
Kirkman has since said he regrets killing off the character. If Marvel feels any similar regret, it hasn't felt it deeply enough to bring Curtis back, but I think he deserves another shot.
Kieran: My final draft pick is someone I’m not a huge fan of, but I think storywise they’d play really well with my team, and that’s Xi'an Coy Manh, AKA Karma. I reckon she’d be instantly best friends with Midnighter, but find Wonder Woman kind of annoying, at least at first. I’d also want to give her a new codename, because I don’t know what Karma has to do with her powers, but at this point any changes I made would eventually be washed away by the tides of nostalgia.
Katie: My final pick is another one of the newer characters on this list, one that has grown on me very quickly --- Porcelain, from the most recent run of Secret Six. Kani (or Kevin, depending on their presentation at the time) is genderfluid, but their actual superpower is being able to make objects brittle simply by touch. They also carry a nasty spiked hammer as their weapon of choice, and their fashion sense is pretty great. Outside of the job, Porcelain is a thoughtful, pragmatic sort who tends to be the voice of reason.
Yes, I’m throwing them on a team with one of their Secret Six team members, but I also have two Young Avengers on my team, so I’m okay with that. With Porcelain on my fantasy team, I think I have a well-rounded group. Pretty pleased.
Tara Marie: Choosing my final member was hard. I went back and forth between dozens of different characters, imaging how they'd fit in with the rest of the characters on my team. At one point I thought about adding Deadpool, but I feel he's too similar to Daken and just wouldn't gel well with the rest of the team. For a bit, I thought about post-Rebirth Aqualad, but I don't know too much about him. Finally, I realized that I wanted someone young, someone bright. I also wanted another girl, because my team has way too many dudes!
So, last but not least, I'm going with Karolina Dean (who, despite almost never using it, has one of my favorite superhero names --- LSD). While I feel her relationship with Xavin is a bit off-putting, I have always loved her, and I think she's a brilliant addition.
Elle: For my last pick I’m choosing a character who I’m pretty shocked made it to the very end of the draft: Harley Quinn. Her bisexuality is so important to her character, because it’s by leaving the Joker and finding a more supportive partner in Poison Ivy that she stops being just a stereotypical gangster’s moll in clown form and becomes a complicated and genuinely likable character.
If I’m going to pick a specific version, I want the Harley to whom that shift had only just happened: The Harley who still wore the same costume as her Animated Series counterpart, and didn’t seem quite so murderous. That version of the character will be a really fun addition to my team. Harley and Jubilee are going to be frighteningly perfect partners in mayhem, and I have a feeling she’ll hit it off with the God of Mischief too.
Andrew: I get the slightly daunting responsibility of the final pick, which is tough when there’s a ton of great characters we haven’t got around to. That in itself is a pretty good sign --- we couldn’t have pulled off something like this ten years ago, maybe even five years ago --- but again, most of the characters we’re choosing from are B-list or below and can easily disappear from comics overnight.
Take, for example, David Alleyne, aka Prodigy. He’s the sort of brilliant, centered character that could easily move up from the Young Avengers to the Avengers --- a genius, a fighter, and a born future leader of Marvel heroes --- but right now he’s nowhere to be seen. Marvel might be content to waste that potential, but I’m not going to.
Those are our teams! Now let’s see what the readers think.
Readers! In the implausible event that Marvel and DC could ever get together to publish just one of these team books, which one would you most want to read about?
Asterisks indicate a wildcard pick.
Andrew: Before we wrap up; any regrets or surprises about the characters that none of us picked? I think it’s revealing that Northstar, once the biggest name in queer superheroes, did not make the cut. Also, we broke up a lot of couples in here.
Elle: Yeah, I was wondering if Northstar would get picked, but I’m not that surprised that he didn’t. He’s historically important, but there are so many queer heroes more interesting and likable these days.
I also want to shout out a character I like a lot, who didn’t get picked (including by me), and that’s Tong, the transgender Moloid girl from Matt Fraction and Mike Allred’s FF. She’s a fun character, and there’s a real sincerity to her coming out scene that I think is missing from a lot of human trans characters in comics. But at the end of the day she’s just a kid, and it’s hard to imagine separating her from her brothers and the rest of the Future Foundation. I hope those characters come back one day, because they were all pretty great.
Kieran: I was surprised how seeing people choose characters that I had my eye on, like Ms. America and Catman, made me change my gameplan and improve my team for the better. When I came into this, I came in to win by picking high-profile characters, but as it went on I was way more concerned with building a fun team whose adventures I'd like to read!