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Carl Valentino lived the sort of life that was expected of him by family and much of society. The oldest of three children, Valentino was a young man living in Toronto in 1967 when introduced in the Man of His Dreams story in Marvel’s 2021 Pride anthology. The most significant change in Carl’s life was not the Stonewall Riots in New York in June, 1969 as you might imagine. Change happened as a result of both parents dying young and Carl raising his younger sister and brother. Until Carl’s death 54 years later, family always came first.

As unassuming as Carl’s presence was to his loving family, the man had two secrets. Carl was a gay man who decided to remain in the closet. He was also a mutant – an oneiromancer – whose power is to control dreams. One fateful night Carl hooks up with Akihiro (Daken) and his power to control dreams is displayed to show Carl and Akihiro living a long and happy life. The nature of the dream spurred Akihiro to run and never contact Carl again. Flash forward in comic book time. The majority of known mutants now live on Krakoa the island country where they’re free to live openly. Chance leads Daken to discover Carl’s obituary and a curiously empathetic Daken steals Carl’s body after mourners depart the cemetery. Daken’s plan to have Carl resurrected is successful. Thanks to the Resurrection Protocols, Carl’s body is restored to his early 20s when he was at his prime. The final panel in the story teases Carl’s return as Somnus sometime in 2022 so readers will have to wait to read more about Carle and how his return may affect Daken.

In an article on Marvel’s site Steve Orlando discusses Somnus’ character and the opportunities the character represents: “Somnus, Carl Valentino, is inspired not only by my own family history, but by my experiences with past generations of LGBTQ+ folks from across the country, people I wouldn’t have met without comics,” Orlando explained. “While there is still plenty of work to do, we’ve also come a long way as a community. Somnus is a chance to explore how my own late queer relatives may have felt, living in more prejudiced times. He’s also a chance to celebrate past generations as a whole and acknowledge the strides we’ve made that they may not have lived to see. And with the Krakoan era being one of relative utopia for mutantkind, Somnus will bring a fresh perspective, and respectful gut check, to the young mutants of the present who may not know just how hard some had to fight for all mutants have achieved. Within the story and without, Somnus will be a new, complex character carrying a message of respect, power, and vision.”

Somnus’ first appearance is in Marvel’s Voices: Pride (June, 2021)

Created by Steve Orlando, Claudia Aguirre, and Luciano Vecchio. Somnus is one of two characters that Vecchio participated in creating for Pride anthologies. Syl is the character seen in DC’s Pride book.

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September 10, 2021
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