Everyone likes to see themselves reflected in media. But thanks to the Comics Code Authority, which came into place in the 1950s, queer people have struggled to find representation in the world of comics. Whilst independent comics have striven for more LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation over the years, some of the bigger companies, particularly the superhero ones, have taken longer to do so. However, one company that’s bringing more and more queer rep into their books is DC Comics. With DC about to celebrate Pride Month with some DC Pride specials, now’s a good time to take a look at a few of their queer characters worth keeping an eye on.
Jonathan Kent, aka Superman
Last year the Superman we all know, Clarke Kent, left Earth and left his teenage son, Jonathan, to take over the name Superman and protect Earth. With his own series, Superman: Son of Kal-El, we’ve gotten to watch Jonathan deal with stepping into his father’s shadow, being in the public eye, and fighting against injustice and oppression around the world.
One of these fights led him to work alongside Jay Nakamura, a young powered individual who was fighting against the oppressive regime of his homeland, attempting to show the world the truth of what was going on. The two grew close, and ultimately realised they had feelings for each other. Whilst not out as bisexual to everyone yet, Jonathan did come out to his mother, Lois Lane, in a recent issue where she accepted her son fully.
Having Superman, one of the most iconic super heroes of all time, be bisexual is a huge thing for queer representation. Jonathan Kent might not be the original Superman, the one known to most people, but he is still a Superman. He wear the shield, he represents what we should be striving for, and he does the right thing. It has been previewed that in the upcoming Pride special he will be receiving a cape with the pride flag as his lining, and I for one hope that ends up being his regular costume, because what could be more amazing than Superman literally draped in the Pride flag? Jonathan Kent is headlining his own series, and is set to play a large role in the Dark Crisis event.
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Harley Quinn is easily one of the more well known characters on this list thanks in part to her recent animated series, and her inclusion in the DCEU movies such as The Suicide Squad.
Originally introduced in an episode of Batman The Animated Series, Harley was created as a female henchman for the Joker, and quickly became his ‘girlfriend’. Over the years the character was fleshed out, given more depth, and fans soon came to see her as a victim of abuse, stuck in a harmful and abusive relationship with the Joker. Harley split away from the Joker in recent years and began to make her own way in the world, but soon ended up forming a romantic relationship with Poison Ivy.
Harley is currently operating in Gotham City as a ‘hero’, trying to change herself from an out and out villain into a vigilante hero; desperate to become part of the Bat-Family. It was whilst helping Batman during the events of ‘Fear State’ that she and Ivy were reunited, and their relationship continued. Whilst she hasn’t been portrayed as bisexual on the big screen, her character is in a relationship with Ivy in the Harley Quinn Animated Series, which is returning for a new season. She’s also currently appearing in her own ongoing series, as well as making brief appearances in other Batman books at DC.
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Jackson Hyde, aka Aquaman
Jackson Hyde is the second Aquaman, currently partnered with Arthur Curry in the DC series Aquamen. Jackson first appeared in Brightest Day, where he became an important figure in Aquaman’s story. Over the years the character developed further, and we learnt that he was not the human boy he though, but half Atlantean, as his mother hailed from the Atlantean colony of Xebel.
It was also learnt that his father is the long term Aquaman villain Black Manta. Rather than following his father into a life of crime, Jackson became Aqualad, learnt under Arthur, and even joined the Teen Titans. Recently, Jackson has taken on the mantle of Aquaman, with Arthur’s approval, and fights to protect the planet alongside his mentor.
Despite having semi-romantic stories with women it was soon revealed that Jackson was gay, and even shared a kiss with the Xebelia rebel Ha’Wea when the two first met. Whilst the two of them didn’t end up together, they remain good friends. Jackson has been shown to be interested in men since, and DC produced the graphic novel You Brought Me The Ocean, a stand alone retelling of his origin story, where his queer identity featured prominently. Jackson is currently headlining the Aquamen series, and seems set to appear in Dark Crisis.
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Connor Hawke is a character that some casual readers or fans of the various comic adaptations might not have heard of, originally introduced in the 90s as the son of Green Arrow, Oliver Queen. Oliver took his son in and began to train him to be an archer, giving him a costume similar to his. When Oliver was killed stopping a bombing, Connor took over the role of Green Arrow until his father was resurrected years later. Ever since Connor has kind of gone in and out of the comics, and it’s sometimes felt like the publisher doesn’t know what to do with the character.
With the recent relaunch of DC Comics with Infinite Frontier Connor has seemed to found a purpose, being a part of the League of Shadows assassin’s group. Appearing in Robin, he took part in a death tournament, he was reintroduced into the current continuity. It’s possible the character will be appearing in future issues of Robin as he and Damian Wayne seem to have a rivalry, but he will also be appearing in DC Pride this year, where it will be confirmed that the long held fan theory of him being asexual is true.
Stitch is by far the most niche character on this list, but I’ve had so much fun with them over the last year that I had to share this unique character. Stitch is the newest character on this list, having only debuted last year in the first issue of Teen Titans Academy.
Stitch is a non-binary, living rag-doll that was given life by Doctor Fate. With Stitch only being recently sentient, Doctor Fate decided that they needed to be taught how to use their magical abilities, as well as how to make friends and form relationships. With the Teen Titans opening a school for young heroes, Stitch was enrolled.
Over the course of Teen Titans Academy Stitch has proven to be one of the more stand-out new characters. They’re not afraid to stand up to authority figures when they feel it’s appropriate to do so, yet aren’t an out and out rebel against the system. They like to get involved in activities and make friends, even if they can’t do certain stuff because they’re a living doll. After saving some of their classmates using their powers Stitch was elected as class president, becoming a liaison between the young students and the older heroes. There’s not been a single issue with Stitch where they haven’t been a delight, and it’s great to see non-binary representation in a DC book.