DC Entertainment moved the needle forward for LGBT visibility once again with the launch of Midnighter and Apollo number 1 in October. The series, currently on its third issue, is the first mainstream comic headlined by a gay male couple, and writer Steve Orlando says he’s proud to be one of the creators currently working to shape a diverse new superhero landscape for the DC Universe.
“People of all types flock to comics because they tell us no matter how mundane or arduous our life is, there’s always that glimmer of hope that our life can be mythic,” he says. “But those mythic moments are not reserved for the mainstream. More queer characters are needed in the spotlight because we all deserve a chance to know we can be heroes too.”
Orlando is no stranger to improving queer representation both on and off the comic book page. Open about his own life as a bisexual writer, he has brought attention to the often-overlooked B in LGBT. He also helped deliver another historic moment in comic book history, penning the GLAAD-nominated adventures of Midnighter’s 2015–16 solo series — the first ongoing mainstream superhero comic to feature a gay man in his own title.
Midnighter was one of several series canceled when DC decided to relaunch its entire line of comics with mostly new number-1 issues and an updated continuity earlier this year. However, Orlando says he’s happy not only that the book is being collected in a series of three graphic novels (volumes 1 and 2 are available now) but that Midnighter’s story is continuing in a new comic with his romantic partner, Apollo, in the title, proving the evolution of the character is exactly where it should be.
“I think Midnighter and Apollo are more important than ever right now,” he says, noting that the need to see strong queer characters is at an all-time high following the horrifying mass shooting in Orlando. “We need a middle finger to those people who are trying to hurt us. That’s who these characters can be and what they do. We need icons, people who stand up to the type of things that are trying to push us down. Now is the perfect time for that to be a gay couple who is looking evil right in the eye and saying that no matter what comes against them or who tries to hurt them, they’re not backing down.”
Orlando will also put his own stamp on DC’s flagship series Justice League of America when the comic relaunches on January 4. The team promises to be one of the most diverse in DC history and will include a prominently featured gay superhero on its roster in the form of Ray Terrill — a.k.a. The Ray.
Orlando hopes the increase in spotlighted LGBT characters throughout the DC Universe will help “redefine what heroism looks like” for a new generation.
“We take a lot of values in our lives from our heroes in fiction, and in these stories we get to be those heroes,” he says. “We’re not the ones who are bashed, and the straight hero gets to step in and save us. That time is over. More than anything else, what I hope people take away from these comics is that if we fight hard enough, evil answers to us, not the other way around.”
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment