Marvel Comics plans wedding for gay hero

Weaving social issues into plot

PHILADELPHIA — Wedding bells will ring this summer for Marvel Comics‘ first openly gay hero, superspeedster Northstar, and his longtime boyfriend.

The New York-based publisher said Tuesday that Canadian character Jean-Paul Beaubier will marry his beau, Kyle Jinadu, in the pages of “Astonishing X-Men” No. 51 that’s due out June 20.

Northstar revealed he was gay in the pages of “Alpha Flight” No. 106 in 1992, one of Marvel Entertainment’s first characters to do so.

Ten years later, in 2002, gay characters Apollo and the Midnighter were married in the pages of “The Authority” published by DC’s Wildstorm imprint.

Since then, numerous comic book heroes and villains have been written as gay or transgender — from DC Comics‘ Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, to Hulkling and Wiccan in the pages of “Young Avengers.”

Comics, as a medium, have embraced gay and transgender characters, including the introduction of Kevin Keller by Archie Comics. Comic strips have done likewise.

This month, cartoonist Tom Batiuk is writing about a gay couple trying to attend their high school prom in “Funky Winkerbean,” a move that has divided the fictional community.

“As I sit in on the classes at my old high school, I see how the younger generation’s attitude toward gays is more open and accepting than that of their predecessors,” Mr. Batiuk said.

For Marvel, the upcoming wedding is a way to further embed same-sex issues in its contemporary universe.

“The Marvel Universe has always reflected the world outside your window, so we strive to make sure our characters, relationships and stories are grounded in that reality,” said Axel Alonso, Marvel’s editor-in-chief.

Author Marjorie Liu, who is writing “Astonishing X-Men,” said the decision to have the pair marry was appropriate.

“As a writer — and a romance novelist, no less — I’ve always found it a bit odd when characters in comic books remain in relationship limbo for years at a time,” she said.

“Certainly, that happens in real life — some relationships just never grow — but the wonderful thing about stories is that they tend to move readers and characters forward,” Ms. Liu said, adding that Northstar pops the question in issue No. 50, which is due out Wednesday.

“And, in this case, it was time to do the same to Northstar and Kyle, who have one of those rare comic book romances that actually works.”

As for the event itself, Ms. Liu said the wedding will take place in New York City, where gay marriage is legal, but given that Northstar is one of the X-Men, it remains to be seen if the event will be trouble-free.

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