This morning, the ladies of ABC's The View were talking about a celebrity wedding. Happens all the time, right? But the celebrities in question were the X-Men, not the Kardashians. And the wedding? It's going to be super-fast adventurer Northstar marrying his longtime boyfriend Kyle. Definitely not your typical talk-show fare.
While this storyline was likely in the works for months, the fact that Marvel chose to announce it now probably isn't just coincidence. Marriage equality and gay rights have been an ever-increasing concern in American cultural discourse, an the issue have become only more energised by President Obama's recent personal endorsement of same-sex marriages. So, Marvel's announcement of Northstar's storyline in Astonishing X-Men may just be a case of great timing.
However, rival publisher DC is playing coy with what may be even more ambitious plans. After top editor Dan Didio announced the news over the weekend, DC Comics exec Courtney Simmons confirmed today that they'll be reintroducing one of their "major, iconic" characters as a homosexual. The House of Superman isn't offering any teasers as to who it might be but that report at Comic Book Resources parses Simmons's wording to speculate that it'll be a male character. DC already has Batwoman as a new but prominent lesbian character.
As stated in this CBR article, Didio had previously said that DC's New 52 reboot wouldn't see reinvented characters changing sexual preferences. And there was an embarrassing moment in Northstar's fictional history where he was declared to be part fairy (as in the magical beings). Sigh.
Still, there's a sense that each publisher's trying to be on the proverbial "right side of history" with these moves, timed to hit during LGBT History Month. Of course, there's the naked hope that these plotlines deliver publicity, massive sales and sellouts in each case. But, mercenary motivations aside, if these editorial decisions get executed well, then they'll reflect a measure of the social justice that characters in Marvel and DC Comics spend so much time fighting for.
Oh, I'm putting money on Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, being the gay character that DC brings out of the closet. He's not the current Robin but could still be called iconic, if you wanted to stretch. Who do you think it'll be?