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Jet Man & Wulf

The year is 1949. Steve Traynor has recently arrived by train to the city of Neopolis on an alternate Earth known as the Ninth Parallel in the Top 10 series which was part of Alan Moore’s America Best Comics imprint. While Neopolis lives up to its name in several ways, it is quite literally a city still under construction. It’s intended purpose is to house all of America’s science heroes, scientists, robots, supernatural folk, and other unusual people.

Beginning in 1943 Traynor fought Nazis from the cockpit of his Black Beauty fighter plane. He is excited, eager, and a little overwhelmed when he and Leni Muller, the Sky Witch who switched to the Allied side in the war, step off the train. The pair rent separate rooms in a boarding house run by Mrs Doesgood and become friends. Muller becomes a rookie cop with the Neopolis police department while Traynor is hired as a mechanic by John Sharkey, the leader of the wartime aerial Skysharks fighter squadron, a nod to the Blackhawk series.

One of the Skysharks is a tall, broad shouldered, bearish man named Wulf of German descent. A bit of a reserved nature often deflects attention from others allowing Wulf the opportunity to keenly observe them. Wulf and Steve form a casual friendship that is based mainly on having meals together while at work and just hanging out but it isn’t long before Wulf starts peppering their conversations with questions about and allusions to Leni Muller being Traynor’s girlfriend or comments involving homosexuality. In reaction to Wulf’s increasing comments Steve begins to talk about Leni as “not my steady or anything” and states “I see, you know, all kinds of girls.” Of course, Traynor is acting out of fear and continues doing so all the way to an attempt to have sex with her. A week later an awkward conversation between the two men takes place with Wulf expressing his sympathy for Steve’s emotional plight while also confessing his romantic interest and ending it with a request for Steve to be honest with Wulf and figure things out.

Traynor takes responsibility by apologizing to Leni, now visibly disappointed, for his behavior and telling her he was avoiding his own attraction to Wulf. A week later an awkward conversation takes place between the two men. Wulf is sympathetic to Steve’s emotional state and confesses his romantic interest and also matter of factly informs Traynor to figure himself out. That opportunity presents itself in harsh reality when Steve goes looking for Wulf and finds him shot and left for dead at the Skysharks main hangar after Wulf had stumbled upon a plan to take over the municipal government. Ever stoic, Wulf urges Traynor to take to the skies and defend the city which he does valiantly with the help of Leni Muller joining the aerial fight thanks to her own unique method of transportation, the Besenstiel, a jet powered broomstick. Later after being treated for his own injuries Steve, wearing his best and perhaps only suit, visits a recuperating Wulf in the hospital. We’re shown another side of Wulf when Steve grabs the journal Wulf’s writing in and reads the passage: “What is believable after war, in sirens’ silence when we hear our hearts again, except nothing…except everything.” This newly revealed and vulnerable side to Wulf is the little push Steve needs to get up his courage and ask Wulf to stay with him forever.

At some point in the 1960s Traynor joins Leni Muller in the Neopolis police department and becomes a precinct commander. Mutual respect is strong between him and the detectives and officers under his command. This dynamic is seen in Top 10 Beyond The Furthest Precinct #1 when half of the precinct’s force decided to resign in protest after Traynor is fired by a very disgruntled mayor on the grounds that Traynor is ineffective in his position though in the Top 10 Second Season mini Traynor has been reinstated As stated in the original profile (see note below) Traynor’s characterization is a seen it all attitude in the Top 10 stories which seems logical given his fighting in World War II at such a young age. Given that young Traynor was also naive about his own sexuality and socially awkward shows change over this span of years.

Social progress is made as time goes by much like our contemporary world and decades later officer Jack Phantom is serving openly as a lesbian without any repurcussions while Traynor is closeted on the job. Alan Moore never explains the reason for this decision though it seems reasonable to assume Moore may have thought the choice was reflective of an older generation whose lives were closeted to the world at large. This theory fits in with a scene in issue #9 where the so called Vigilante from Venus M’rrgla Qualtz threatens to humiliate Traynor by revealing his sexuality. Qualtz’s character served its purpose and Moore simply kills the character rather than take away page space from wrapping up other sub plots while setting up others to follow through with in a second volume.

Most of the information for this profile is based on the Forty Niners graphic novel published in 2005 – a full four years after the conclusion in 2001 of the first Top 10 series. This detail seems relevant in a historical context given the significantly smaller number of LGBTQA characters that existed in 2001. If memory serves Steve and Wulf are the first older gay couple to appear in comics. Top 10 concludes with a scene with Steve and Wulf at home sharing some small talk and reminiscing about the early days of their relationship. Their love may be the longest in comics with it beginning in 1949 and still going strong in 2005 as a scene shows them attending a Top 10 annual picnic. The 2005 date is referenced in a sign reading “Top 10 Annual Summer Picnic 2005” in the double page spread from Top 10 Beyond The Furthest Precinct #1. The Top 10 lead story in ABC: A – Z Top 10 & Teams special is written from the point of view of Leni Muller looking at Neopolis through her life experiences. The story ends with Muller joining Steve and Wulf at their home for dinner, wine, and enjoying each other’s company.

Readers may notice in the second image included in this profile the mention of Steve and Wulf’s ages when they first met – Steve Traynor was 16 and Wulf was 24. This scene comes after Traynor and Top 10 officers having busted up the Seven Sentinels superhero group for secretly being a pedophile ring that sexually abused their Young Sentinels sidekicks. Moore brought up the age difference in subtle ways in the Forty-Niners as well. Leni Muller’s age is ambiguous in the graphic novel though in the ABC: A – Z Top 10 & Teams one shot it’s established that her age is 60 in 1986 which makes her 23 in 1949 when Traynor drunkenly attempts to have sex with her. I have a very vague sense of Moore being called out over this in 2005. TVTropes includes this relationship as an example of the Lover and Beloved relationship which in Western culture traces back to ancient Greece though similar types existed in Japan and China. While this profile charts the history of these men’s relationship and its positive attributes it is in no way an endorsement of romantic or sexual relationships involving a minor.

Jet Man/ Steve Traynor first appears in Top 10 #1 and his sexuality is revealed in Top 10 #9. Wulf first appears in Top 10 #12.

Jet Man created by Alan Moore and Gene Ha for America’s Best Comics. Art by Gene Ha, Zander Cannon, and Alex Sinclair from Top 10 #12.

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This profile is based in part on a profile written by Ronald Byrd. It disappeared in the “Great Hack” incident of 2009 when a hacker(s) deleted nearly this entire site. According to Internet Archive records the earliest recorded snapshot of the original profile is February 10th, 2001 though it may have been published on an earlier date. In either case, the original profile did not include information from The Forty-Niners graphic novel by Moore and Ha that was published in 2005.

February 19, 2022
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