DC Comics' September Relaunch Also Reshuffling LGBT Characters
This September, the DC Comics line will undergo a full reboot, with classic titles such as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman resetting to issue #1, and in some cases wiping away years of storytelling. Some of those years have included some important strides forward for LGBT representation in the DC Universe, leaving many fans worried about where their favorite characters will end up once the dust settles. A few of them have already been confirmed as appearing in some of the 52 different books set to launch (or relaunch), and writer Gail Simone recently gave GLAAD an idea of where we can expect to see a few more.
One of the most anticipated new ongoing series, for LGBT and general readers alike, is undoubtedly Batwoman. Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams helped define what was probably DC's most significant gay character to date with their GLAAD Media Award-winning run on Detective Comics, and now Williams will help shepherd costumed vigilante Kate Kane into her own book following lengthy delays. As yet it's unknown whether Kate's ex-girlfriend Renee Montoya will be putting in any appearances, but rumors suggest she will not be returning in the guise of the Question, a hero she's been moonlighting as for the past several years. If the revamp puts her back on the Gotham City Police force, she could also return to being the perfect romantic foil for Kate's cowled crime fighter. Provided out police captain Maggie Sawyer isn't also in the picture.
The highest profile same-sex couple in the new DC universe will probably be superheroes Midnighter and Apollo, who were most recently members of The Authority in the Wildstorm comics line, which was acquired by DC in 1999. Following the imprint's closing, a number of characters will be incorporated directly into the relaunched DC line. Previously, Midnighter and Apollo were portrayed as two older men (and analogs for Batman and Superman, respectively) who had been partners for some time while they were members of a global response team that violently tackled world threats. Over the course of The Authority, they eventually married and adopted a daughter, but DC's Co-Publisher Dan Didio told The Advocate that they would be starting their relationship from scratch in the newly relaunched Stormwatch, saying, "You’re going to see the two characters working side by side and showing the difficulties of working together, learning and growing as a team and then ultimately as a couple."
Another transplant from the Wildstorm comics line, Voodoo also has the distinction of being the only one of 52 new comic books to feature a woman of color in the title role, and a bisexual one at that. This book will follow Priscilla Kitaen as she attempts to evade government agents and heroes alike after discovering she's actually a half-alien hybrid.
Justice League Dark
The title kicking off the whole relaunch will be Justice League #1, which features all of DC's most famous flagship heroes, but it's much edgier sibling will be the newly formed Justice League Dark. Focusing on more arcane stories, Dark will feature a team of magically-inclined heroes battling the dark arts. Among them will be immortal fortune teller Madame Xanadu, who most recently starred in her own comic for Vertigo, in which she was revealed to have been in a committed relationship with a peasant girl during the Spanish Inquisition. That storyline was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award in 2010, and Xanadu is also expected to play a major role in the upcoming Demon Knights. Justice League Dark will also star occult detective John Constantine, whose has previously been written as bisexual.
That still leaves a number of characters in limbo unfortunately, though we've gotten some hints as to where we'll see a few more. For years, Gail Simone has been writing some of the best and most inclusive comics on the market, and will be handling both Batgirl and The Fury of Firestorm starting in September. She tells GLAAD, “Both of my books in the relaunch feature LGBT characters, including what I think is a first for mainstream comics.” Of course when pressed for more details, Simone simply laughed and replied, "Spoilers!"
Simone, however, did confirm that Birds of Prey's hulking Russian bodyguard Aleksandr Creote would appear in Batgirl by the end of year one, and his boyfriend (who is possibly reformed criminal Savant) would appear in another comic altogether. Meanwhile, Secret Six fans should be very pleased to learn that another of Simone's creations, Scandal Savage, will still be somewhere to be found in the new universe. Even better, she'll also likely still have both her wives (Apokolips warrior Knockout and exotic dancer Liana Kerzner) with her.
So who's still MIA? A number of supporting and tertiary characters who might put in appearances down the road. Alien hero Mikaal Tomas (Starman) was most recently a member of the Justice League and seen teaming up with the shape-shifting Tasmanian Devil in a one-off special, but no word yet on where either might end up. It's been rumored that the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, would not be part of the new books, which might not bode well for his gay son Obsidian. If they return, reformed villain Pied Piper is most likely to make an appearance in Flash, teenage runaway Holly Robinson would probably show up in Catwoman, and mythological warrior Achilles could pop up in Wonder Woman. Lesbian super couple Grace and Thunder have been laying low for quite some time anyway, so their future was already ambiguous. And the And no word yet on whether Gen 13 member Rainmaker will be making the jump from Wildstorm to DC like Voodoo, Midnighter, and Apollo will.
Despite the uncertain futures of many of these long-standing characters, DC looks to be readying a strongly inclusive lineup, with lesbian, gay, and bisexual characters playing major roles in five different books right out of the gate and new characters still to be revealed. As Didio also said, being inclusive was definitely an aim for relaunch: "What we really wanted to do was show the diversity of our audience across the line of our books. Right now we have such a wide fan base and we wanted to create characters and stories that really reflected [that] fan base."
That's an attitude spoken of quite regularly by (some) television networks, but it's still a relatively new one for a major comics publisher to take. GLAAD commends DC Comics for making LGBT inclusivity a priority in the revamp of their publishing slate, and for incorporating significant gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters into their storylines.
The newly relaunched DC comics line kicks off today with Justice League #1 (which has apparently sold out before even hitting stands), to be followed by 51 other titles over the month of September. Premiere dates of previously mentioned comics are as follows:
9/7 - Stormwatch, Batgirl
9/14 - Batwoman, Demon Knights
9/28 - Voodoo, Justice League Dark, The Fury of Firestorm