Earlier this week we learned that DC Comics is planning to reintroduce an established comic book character as gay. Today we learn that Marvel Comics is planning a same-sex wedding for one of its already well-established gay characters. Northstar, a member of the X-Men, came out as gay back in 1992. Next month, he will marry his longtime boyfriend Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-Men #51. Marvel Comics has enjoyed a long tradition of superhero weddings over the years, so this wedding for Northstar and Kyle comes as no big surprise … er, that is, except for the fact that it will be Marvel’s first same-sex marriage ever :)
Wedding bells are ringing for the X-Men, and Marvel Comics is getting topical with its newest superhero marriage. In Astonishing X-Men issue 50, out Wednesday, the openly gay mutant hero Northstar proposes to his longtime boyfriend, Kyle, with a same-sex wedding featuring a super guest list to follow next month — as well as sure controversy in some quarters. “Whenever you tell a story that touches upon an issue people are passionate about, you open yourself up to controversy and some very heated comments, both supportive and critical,” says Marvel’s editor in chief Axel Alonso. “But as long as we continue to tell good stories, with nuanced characters from different walks of life, we feel that we’re making our comics accessible to the widest possible audience.” President Obama recently came out in support of gay marriage, but Marvel’s views evolved a while back. Alonso says he and his team began having conversations about such a story line shortly after New York legalized same-sex weddings last June. “Most of our characters reside in New York, and our stories always work best when we reconcile them against the real world, so it raised some questions.” Marvel has focused on bringing a more realistic flavor to its characters and books, such as introducing Miles Morales, the half-black, half-Hispanic Spider-Man, last year. Writer Marjorie Liu has embraced that mind-set, too, in her Astonishing X-Men stories. In addition to Northstar’s proposal to his boyfriend — which doesn’t go quite as planned — she also pens a scene where Northstar talks to his fellow X-Men about his love life while on a mission. “These are men and women with lives outside the X-Men. You can’t be on the job all the time, right?” Liu says. “Why not take an evening and walk through the city, eat ramen at Ippudo, see a movie or hang out at a bookstore? They are mutants, yes — definitely superheroes — but also people who live in the world alongside everyone else.” In fact, Northstar makes his intentions known to Kyle alongside many of their fellow New Yorkers in Bryant Park, which was “the perfect place for an impromptu proposal — feet on the ground, with distractions all around,” Liu says. “I especially liked the idea of these very private people — well, private enough for a mutant celebrity — having such a public, life-changing discussion.” Liu and artist Mike Perkins admit they took some extra time to get the scene right … “Relationships reveal character, and so does conflict,” Liu explains. “Let’s just say that there’s a lot of work that can be done in this situation, which is no different than what you’d see with a real-life couple where one spouse is a police officer or soldier — or works in any profession that puts him or her in danger on a regular basis. How does that affect the relationship? … Marvel also has always been a home for big, star-studded superhero weddings, from Peter Parker and Mary Jane in Amazing Spider-Man in 1987 to the Fantastic Four’s Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman back in 1965. The cover for Astonishing X-Men issue 51 next month features a cavalcade of guests for Northstar and Kyle’s ceremony, including Wolverine, Alpha Flight and a bunch of mutant do-gooders. Will it go off without a hitch? “I don’t think any wedding is ever stress-free. Little things can pile up, you know?” Liu says. “And yes, there will be some fun guests at the wedding, but not everyone will accept the invitation.” Some characters will support and accept the validity of the marriage but some won’t, according to Alonso, reflecting the way the issue polarizes those in the real world … For [Liu], her current X-Men arc is about love, not politics. “I know what it means to be in a situation where the world looks down on two people in love,” Liu says. “My father is Chinese and my mom is a white American, and they married at a time when mixing race was almost always discouraged. The prejudice my parents faced was very real, and hurtful. So it’s not a far leap for someone like me to relate to the controversy about gay marriage — two people who are in love, who want to be together.”
Wow. I had no idea that Marvel was planning this proposal and wedding for Northstar. I was very impressed when Archie Comics featured their first same-sex marriage earlier this year but this move by Marvel only fortifies the fact that things are getting better for gays and lesbians in our culture. Yes, we are still very far from achieving the goal of justice and equality for all but we are on the right track to get there soon. These small advancements, even in the world of comic books, do much to advance equal treatment for all in this country. It may seem trivial, believe me, I get it … but in the grand scheme of things, we will look back to advancements like this as important benchmarks for gay rights in this country. Let me be among the first to congratulate Northstar / Jean-Paul Beaubier and Kyle Jinadu on their upcoming nuptials :) I can’t wait to congratulate them when they do finally get hitched next month.