Don’t Mask, Do Tell

Gadzooks! Comic heroes come flying out of the closet.

BY Suzan Colón

October 22 2008 12:00 AM ET

While gay characters have been sprinkled sporadically through comic books for years, DC Comics signaled a sea change when it announced its upcoming Justice League series will feature not one, but two main characters who aren’t super-straight: a lesbian Batwoman and a bisexual alien named Starman.

The news is all the more remarkable considering that before 1989 the Comics Code Authority -- sort of the Motion Picture Association of America for comics -- banned all depictions of gay people. Since then, comic artists have made up for lost time; here are seven of the most memorable queer heroes:

Batwoman: Originally introduced as a love interest for Batman. She was killed off when Batgirl became more popular but resurrected in 2006 as a nice Jewish lesbian in DC’s weekly series 52.

Renee Montoya: Former Gotham City police detective and ex-girlfriend of Kate Kane, a.k.a. Batwoman. Outed in DC’s GLAAD Award–nominated Gotham Central series (in the “Half a Life” story arc) by arch-villain Two-Face in 2003.

Holly Robinson: Former prostitute and sapphic incarnation of her friend Selina Kyle, the original Catwoman.

Northstar: Lightning-fast mutant in Marvel’s AlphaFlight series. Rebuffed women for years on the grounds that he was too busy training as a competitive skier. Came out in 1992 after his adopted infant daughter died of AIDS complications.

The Rawhide Kid: The Kid first appeared in the ’50s, only to come back in 2003, drawn by the 86-year-old original artist, as a gay cowboy. Marvel branded the updated series with an “Adults Only” label.

Hulkling and Wiccan: The relationship between these two male youths helped their title, Marvel’s Young Avengers, win GLAAD’s Outstanding Comic Book Award in 2006.

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