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Marvel’s Other Gay Kiss

A good chunk of Astonishing X-Men #49 by Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins is taken up by a requisite rock ’em, sock ’em, stomp ’em super mutant bash. Fights give fans what they want at least some of the time, but Liu uses it here for another reason, one that you already know if you’ve read Bleeding Cool or any number of comics forums or Facebook posts. Northstar’s regular guy boyfriend Kyle is figuratively sitting on the sidelines relatively safely while Jean-Paul and the rest of this X team punch it out on the streets of New York with a Marauders crew and rushes out to watch so he can be near Jean Paul. True love can lead people to do things that in retrospect we realize are just damned stupid. And why shouldn’t he? Everyone needs a little excitement in life and apparently Kyle needs a little more after recovering from his “Stepford Wives I’ve only got four toes now I hate you, Jean-Paul”style Unity brainwashing incident from the recent mini-then-ongoing-then-“canceled” Alpha Flight series. Liu’s decision to have Northstar refer to Kyle as “babe” in last month’s issue surprised me as being out of character. Here’s this arrogant prick of a character – a trait that lots of readers love and mostly bores me to tears – calling his boyfriend “babe”! And yes, Matt Fraction and the editorial gang still deserve props for Kyle and the whole relationship and Tim Fish for his really sweet short story, especially after that sad and still not yet forgettable doomed crush on Iceman from Chuck Austen’s run. Now you can’t get that out of your head either, can you?

If “babe” created a “wha-huh?” reaction with me then I was not really prepared for the cognitive dissonance that followed Northstar saying (and thankfully not shouting from a cover) “Kyle…I need you.” and “I love you. I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love you.” It goes on with a confession about being selfish, which heaven knows he has been, but to say it? Is this the same Northstar? Apparently so, though such an emotional outpouring after years of prickery would probably arch the eyebrow of any therapist in the real world. But that’s just it – we’re talking about comics characters that endure years — decades — of soap operatic upheavals in personal lives or little change at all depending on the whims of writers and staff on top off numerous catastrophic events and still retain their sanity, let alone have never lost control of bodily functions out of fear. So huge leaps forward in characterization are required (or a whole other route if it doesn’t sit well with you) by Liu and editors if Jean-Paul and Kyle are to have Marvel’s first same sex marriage in the June issue. And let’s stress the big if since Marvel is being coy while working the hype machine. Does anyone expect Logan to wed Gambit or Cecilia Reyes? June is the first anniversary of marriage equality in New York state (yes, they could return to Canada, too) and also Gay Pride month. I really want these two guys to marry because it seems to be good character progression and I think Liu is capable of exploring it in exciting and insightful ways. Plus, I can’t deny anticipating the outcry from One Million Moms after another same sex marriage in comics. And while all the attention is on Northstar and Kyle, I hope Liu has plans to flesh out Karma’s life too.

Now the way Mike Perkins drew one of Marvel’s most important same sex kisses is a whole other matter…

March 7, 2015
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