Everyone has probably heard of Northstar’s big coming-out outburst when fighting Major Mapleleaf back in 1992 (Alpha Flight #106 if you’re curious). But throughout the decades, many other LGBTQ+ moments have been woven into Marvel comics. A lot of these moments are long-awaited stories for beloved characters. Others are smaller, quieter moments. In the past few years alone, we’ve seen bloody reunions (hi Shatterstar and Rictor!) as well as impulsive acts of recognition (Kitty and that Marauders kiss!).
Of course, not all of these moments are full of sunshine and rainbows — queer pride is not only celebration but also resistance and remembrance. Read on for some, but not all, of Marvel comics’ best queer moments. However, on that note, let’s all agree to never again mention Beast pretending to be gay. Just, don’t.
Mystique: “I want my wife back!”
In the majority of her appearances, Mystique is a cold-hearted killer. However, her relationship with Irene Adler, AKA Destiny, reveals a softer side to Mystique. Their dedication to each other, and the dysfunctional family they created, has endured more than most couples can say. However, after Destiny’s death in 1989, she was kept dead for over 30 years. Now, in the Age of Krakoa, Mystique swallowed her pride and worked for Xavier and Magneto so Destiny could be resurrected. Of course, they instead listen to Moira McTaggert’s warnings and deny her reunion with Irene, leading to Mystique’s iconic outrage. But don’t worry — Destiny is inevitable.
Rictor & Shatterstar Kiss
Even though the classic love song “As Time Goes By” tells us that a kiss is just a kiss, sometimes a kiss can have a lasting impact. And for queer readers and audiences, seeing a kiss onscreen or on panel means more than just fan service. It’s validation that has long been fought for, and inclusion that is much deserved.
Though the first gay Marvel comics kiss is thanks to Pete Milligan and Mike Allred in X-Force #118 (2001), the kiss shared between Rictor and Shatterstar in X-Factor #45 (2009) is viewed as the first one for big-name, mainstream super heroes. Cue joke about an earth-shattering kiss. You can catch the latest in this couple’s history now that they’re reunited in Knights of X.
Odin’s Love for Loki
For queer people, acceptance from their family members is not often guaranteed. And for Loki, the Asgardian God of Mischief, he’s already on the outs with his family often enough. But in a heartwarming panel in Loki: Agent of Asgard #11 (2014) with his father, Odin, the All-Father tells Loki that he loves his child no matter what, acknowledging that Loki is both son and daughter. Odin’s unconditional love for his child is what all families should aspire toward.
Northstar and Kyle Jinadu’s Wedding / Wiccan and Hulking’s Wedding
Get a groom! Love has always been in the air when it comes to super heroes but a super hero wedding is a rare event. Not only are the logistics difficult (imagine getting all those egos and superpowers in one space?) but the likelihood that it won’t be interrupted by a villain needing attention is very slim.
Nevertheless, Marvel comics have ushered in two unforgettable marriages in their history of matrimony. Northstar’s wedding to Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-Men #51 (2012) stands out as the first same-sex marriage for Marvel. Later, in 2020, Empyre #4 gave readers Marvel’s most intergalactic power couple yet: Wiccan and Hulkling. Wiccan, the son of Scarlet Witch, rivals his mother in chaos magic while Hulkling is now the Emperor of the Kree-Skrull Alliance. They must have a lot to talk about at dinner.
Ayo and Aneka
When Ayo, a respected captain, and Aneka, a new member of the guard, defect from the Dora Milaje, many within the Black Panther’s sphere are shocked. Together, they form the Midnight Angels and their relationship becomes a powerful beacon of Black queer women in love, fighting for what they believe in. Their story is told in the GLAAD Media Award for Representation-winning series World of Wakanda, written by Roxane Gay with art by Alitha E. Martinez and Afua Richardson, plus a portion of the first issue written by poet Yona Harvey.
Gender Euphoria with Escapade
Sometimes the littlest joys can have the biggest impact on our emotional health, even something as simple as finding the right makeup. Though Shela Sexton and Morgan Red’s story in Marvel’s Voices Pride #1 (2022) is mainly about their struggle as semi-do-gooding super-villains, a highlight is the series of small panels that flashback to the beginning of their friendship. As kids, Shela and Morgan came out to each other as trans mutants. Their enduring friendship is a testament to the power of support we can all give each other in our own communities.
America Chavez Teasing Kate Bishop
What’s a little light-hearted teasing between good friends? Marvel fans especially love the Young Avengers because they are a true family, always looking out for each other. Plus, many of their members are queer! After they’ve finally managed to resolve Kid Loki’s Multiverse-bending scheme, the team enjoys a rowdy New Year’s Eve party together. At the end of the night, Kate Bishop questions whether she’s the only straight member of the team. With a mischievous raised eyebrow, America Chavez says, “I’ve seen the way you look at me. You’re not that straight.” Bullseye!
Venomm and Taku
Unrealistic body standards are hard to live up to for anybody, and most communities unfortunately face them in some capacity. However, this story of love between a former henchman and a top-ranking Wakandan advisor shows that real love is accepting and forgiving. While Horatio Walters, AKA Venomm, will always be rough around the edges, his loving husband Taku will always see past Horatio’s exterior to the kind man underneath.
Karma and Galura at Hellfire Gala 2021
Many queer people, for one reason or another, miss out on formative experiences while growing up. One of these experiences is attending a prom with someone they care about — and at the inaugural Hellfire Gala, Magik helps her fellow New Mutant teammate Karma find some much-deserved fun on the dance floor. With a little encouragement, Xi’an Coy Manh manages to ask Galura for a dance.
Bobby Confronting Jean for Outing Him
Sina Grace’s solo series for Bobby Drake, AKA Iceman, gave the recently out super hero an authentic exploration of his newly public identity. It showed the awkward first steps into gay dating and the ongoing discourse between loved ones trying to understand. But this series also finally gave Bobby some agency regarding his coming out. Back in All-New X-Men #40, the X-Men are dealing with time-traveling younger versions of themselves. In the mixup, Jean Grey reads Bobby’s mind and outs him as gay. Finally, in Grace’s Uncanny X-Men: Winter’s End, Bobby gives Jean a piece of his mind and he doesn’t hold back.
As the stories and characters of Marvel comics continue to grow, the ways in which readers identify with their heroes and connect to these powerful stories will only grow as well.
Already, queer moments are adding heart as well as humor to modern Marvel comics. Just look at Wolverine’s cheeky comment about enjoying Scott in a speedo or Iceman being a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race! Also, can we get a return of the teleporting drag queen mutant Darkveil? Her former codename was Shade, which should already tell you how legendary she is on and off the stage.
What are your favorite queer moments in Marvel comics? Keep the conversation going over at side.show/geekgroup, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!