Fempop – a blog that I can’t recommend enough – recently posted a wonderfully comprehensive piece on an almost-incomprehensible subject: Marvel’s Comic Books and its central lesbian relationship. I say almost incomprehensible because this particular series (and, like the subtitle of the piece, we’re dealing with recent history here: 2009, to be exact) has a truly monstrous amount of backstory involved.
Suffice it to say, it’s a series about aliens and mutants and humans, all of whom are superheroes or supervillains, and two of whom are lesbians, in a happy, healthy, altogether normal relationship. So far, so good, right?
From the post:
Phyla-vell and Moondragon are two characters with insanely complicated backstories that I don’t even want to look up, so let’s just say they’re Green Lantern’s roommates. Yeah, what are you going to do about it? As reintroduced in the cosmic books, they’re both lesbians, or bisexual, or one of those other orientations that we apparently need. They get together and even get their own miniseries. So, all good, right? Yay representation! But over the course of the series, I noticed something.
They never kiss. I’m not kidding. Never. One of them is dressed like she’s going to play Volleyball at the Olympics, they’re physically affectionate, they sleep together, they just never kiss. They hug. Or they nuzzle. This in a miniseries specifically devoted to a lesbian character, co-starring her lesbian lover. Do you get how weird this is? It’s like going to see a romantic comedy and by the end credits, Channing Tatum hasn’t kissed Mila Kunis once. It’s. Just. Weird.
Apparently, a whole world of bad happens after that. And even though we’re talking about a series from a couple of years ago, its not exactly like we’ve had amazing lesbian representation in comics – with a couple of notable exceptions, like Kate Kane (Batwoman), and the Buffy series. So, why is it that mainstream comics – and for that matter, any type of genre entertainment — have had such a hard time with lesbian representation?
It’s a question that’s irked me ever since my long-ago days in film school, where I had otherwise progressive professors telling us not to write queer characters unless their being gay was some kind of trait to comment on or base the story upon. (True story.)
In any event, the piece is well worth a look, especially for the comments on the sexy-but-totally-not-sexual panels of our two lovers cuddling up. There are no Eskimos in space, indeed.