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LGBT Friendly Writer Report Card

By Mike McDermott

The number of openly LGBT characters in comics has increased dramatically over the last decade, with increasingly prominent roles and positive portrayals. This is due in large part to certain writers–some gay, some straight–who have made a point of being LGBT inclusive in their work, even at times when it was still taboo, or when it wasn’t “necessary” to the story. It is important to be aware of who these allies are and to acknowledge their contribution to LGBT visibility, so I decided to look over my current reading list and evaluate the writers for their LGBT content. Please note that this is based only on the work I have read from these writers–so if one of them has more examples of LGBT content, either positive or negative, that I’ve overlooked which could affect their score, please let me know in the comments section.

JONATHAN HICKMAN: Currently writing AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS; formerly writer of SECRET WARRIORS, FF and FANTASTIC FOUR:
Hickman is something of a difficult one to evaluate. His work is LGBT inclusive…so we’ve been told. In a message board Q&A session, he revealed that his AVENGERS book will include LGBT characters, as did his SECRET WARRIORS book, but in both cases it won’t be addressed unless its story related. SECRET WARRIORS has been over for a few years now…and we still don’t know what character he was referring to there, since it never came up in the story. On the one hand, I admire the fact that he’s not having any of his LGBT characters be defined by their sexuality–its just one aspect of who they are. On the other hand…if no one knows who the gay character is, or even knows that there IS a gay character without that message board comment…does it really count as LGBT representation? Ultimately, I have to give him credit for good intentions…but say that his execution needs improvement in this area.

KELLY SUE DECONNICK: Currently writing CAPTAIN MARVEL and AVENGERS ASSEMBLE. Formerly wrote the OSBORN miniseries, and RESCUE and SIF one-shots.
Kelly Sue has to get a neutral grade at this point. I have seen no LGBT representation in any of her books…but she has very little mainstream work to date, so this may be more a matter of lack of opportunity than anything else.  With ASSEMBLE she is mainly using the cast established in the ‘core’ Avengers book, so she doesn’t really get to pick her own cast there, and with CM there have not yet been any LGBT characters established in Carol Danvers’ life. However, Kelly Sue has started to develop the supporting cast beyond the familiar faces, so its possible we may yet see some LGBT representation develop.

NICK SPENCER: Currently writing SECRET AVENGERS and SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN.
Spencer does not have much LGBT representation established thus far in his Marvel work–although his SECRET AVENGERS includes Superia as one of the ongoing villains, and she has occasionally been implied to be lesbian (including a scene in Spencer’s run, with Superia being attended by scantily-clad female servants). His Image comics series, MORNING GLORIES, does include some gay characters, so we know he is willing to include LGBT characters–I just haven’t seen any in his Marvel work yet.

RICK REMENDER: Currently writing UNCANNY AVENGERS, and CAPTAIN AMERICA.  Formerly VENOM, SECRET AVENGERS, X-FORCE, etc.
Remender is another writer who falls into the “good intentions but needs to work on the execution” category. His UNCANNY AVENGERS book has been surrounded with controversy over a storyline with Havok making comments on Mutant rights that were obviously intended to be a positive statement in terms of equality and ending discrimination, but the wording of it unfortunately ended up undermining the positive aspect of it because it ended up offending members of many minority groups. I do believe the intentions were good–but the execution backfired. In terms of actual GLBT characters in his work, he has used Daken in both UNCANNY AVENGERS and X-FORCE.

SAM HUMPHRIES: Writer on the new AVENGERS A.I. series and X-FORCE.
There has been no LGBT content to the AVENGERS A.I. series as of yet, but his X-FORCE work has certainly gotten into it, by giving Psylocke a same-sex lover! It is complicated since Cluster is a female clone of Psylocke’s (ex)boyfriend Fantomex, but it is still an exploration of LGBT sexuality. Whether this means Psylocke is now bisexual, or whether this is a unique situation for Cluster/Fantomex, remains to be seen.

KEIRON GILLEN: Writer on YOUNG AVENGERS and IRON MAN, formerly JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY.
The YOUNG AVENGERS was already one of Marvel’s more gay-inclusive books before Gillen took it over, and he has only increased that. He has made Wiccan and Hulkling very prominent as the romantic leads and emotional core of the series, as well as outing Prodigy as bisexual. A few issues ago it also appeared that Miss America has same-sex parents. As for IRON MAN, Gillen has said that he’ll be returning to Tony Stark’s supporting cast once the current outer space arc is over; whether or not that will mean the return of Tim Cababa remains to be seen, but even just based on his YA work, Gillen scores quite highly for LGBT representation.

DENNIS HOPELESS: Currently writing AVENGERS ARENA and CABLE & X-FORCE.
I am unaware of any LGBT content in his CABLE & XF series, but ARENA includes at least one gay or bi character in the form of Cullen Bloodstone, so he gets points for inclusiveness.

MATT FRACTION: Current writer on HAWKEYE, FF and FANTASTIC FOUR.
Fraction probably gets one of the best scores on this ‘report card’–almost everything I have ever read of his has had some LGBT represenation. THE ORDER had lesbian member Mulholland Black as well as an all-lesbian villain team. His IRON MAN run introduced Tim Cababa and gave him a relationship with the undercover Spymaster. His X-MEN run brought Northstar back into the team as an active member. In FF he recently outed one of the Moloid students as transgender. His HAWKEYE book includes a minor lesbian background character.

CULLEN BUNN: Current writer on FEARLESS DEFENDERS and VENOM
He has introduced a lesbian character (Dr. Annabelle Riggs) prominently in DEFENDERS thus far, as well as hinted at Valkyrie possibly being bisexual. Interviews have also suggested that we may see more lesbian or bi characters in the book in future issues.

BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS: Currently writing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and X-MEN.
Although Bendis’ work tends to be somewhat controversial and divisive among fans, his track record for LGBT representation is pretty decent. His ALIAS run had multiple stories that dealt with LGBT subject matter. His ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN includes a Spider-Woman who is a female clone of Peter Parker who shares all of his memories…but still gets involved with boys. He also created Victoria Hand, who was a prominent supporting character in his DARK AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS series.  I should also note he included Daken in his DARK AVENGERS, although Daken’s sexuality–and most of his personality–was completely ignored. Neither of his current books currently feature any openly GLBT characters, but previous runs of both GOTG and X-MEN have had several LGBT characters, so chances are good that some may appear down the line. He has also added gay-favourite Dazzler to his cast.

PETER DAVID: Writer on X-FACTOR; upcoming new project which has yet to be announced.
Almost everything I have ever read by PAD either includes LGBT characters, or at least acknowledgement towards LGBT people, including his early Star Trek novels–which was notable since there was virtually no acknowledgement of the existence of gay people in the Trek universe at that time. Notable LGBT content from PAD includes the current relationship between Rictor and Shatterstar, as well as outing Moondragon as a lesbian, and introducing her lover Phyla-Vell. What new series PAD will be doing now that X-FACTOR has ended has yet to be announced…but I am confident that some LGBT content will be included. 🙂

CHRISTOS GAGE: Currently writing ANGEL & FAITH, formerly AVENGERS ACADEMY, X-MEN: LEGACY, THE INITIATIVE, etc.
Gage is another writer who seems to be building up quite a resume of LGBT inclusiveness. ACADEMY was his big one, with the introduction of Striker and the official outing of Julie Power and having her start dating Karolina Dean. But his INITIATIVE work also had several cameos and minor roles for various LGBT heroes and villains in the 50 State Initiative.  He wrote the ASTONISHING X-MEN ANNUAL dealing with Northstar and Kyle’s honeymoon. His LEGACY run had a story where Rogue helped a closeted gay man who was killed while on his way to tell his boyfriend that he loved him. His current series does not feature any openly LGBT characters–but Angel has been established to have at least experimented sexually, with a known fling with Spike.

DAN SLOTT: Currently writing SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN, formerly AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, SHE-HULK, INITIATIVE, etc.
Slott has a decent track record of LGBT inclusiveness. He introduced Max Modell as a prominent supporting character to the Spidey books, along with his boyfriend Hector. He outed both Living Lightning and Flatman a few years back in his GLA miniseries.

MARJORIE LIU: Currently writing ASTONISHING X-MEN, formerly DAKEN.
Liu wrote Marvel’s (to date) only ongoing solo book about an openly bisexual male lead character, who was very definitely sexually active. She also has included two LGBT members in her X-Men team (Northstar and Karma), and wrote a gay wedding storyline for Northstar that made real world headlines. For a relative newcomer to the comics field, her LGBT track record is very impressive!

JAMES ASMUS: Currently writing GAMBIT
Although it seems the editors never allowed him to officially state it on-panel, Asmus has declared in interviews that he considers Gambit to be a bisexual character, and was writing him that way (why Marvel would not let him officially state it I’m not sure, since Liu, Gage and Fabian Nicieza have all dropped hints about it in their work too). So I give credit to him for that, even if it never actually made it into the storyline.  He also wrote a fill-in issue of RUNAWAYS, which acknowledged Karolina’s sexuality. And in his non-comics work, his comedy work has also included LGBT content, such as the comedic short “Catching The Gay”.

CHRIS YOST: Current writer on SCARLET SPIDER and SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN TEAM-UP.
SCARLET SPIDER has gay couple Officer Wally Layton and Dr. Donald Meland as prominent supporting characters.

ANDREW CHAMBLISS: Currently writer on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Any writer on BUFFY automatically has points for LGBT inclusiveness, with Willow as a one of the series leads. This season has also featured ambiguously gay Andrew as a supporting character, introduced a gay male Slayer named Billy, and featured Kennedy for an arc.

All in all, I’d say things are looking pretty good–almost all of the writers whose work I am currently following have at least a history of gay-friendliness and LGBT-inclusiveness if they don’t currently have an LGBT character in their book!

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