Over the past two years, conservatives have increasingly focused on comic books and graphic novels with LGBTQ content. “Parents rights” advocates have targeted titles like Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper, and other queer-themed graphic works for removal from schools and public libraries.
DC Comics has used its deep multiverse to introduce queer and gender-swapped variants of longtime characters like Superman (Jon Kent), Green Lantern (Sojourner Mullein), Aquaman (Jackson Hyde), and the Flash (Jess Chambers), as well as introducing new LGBTQ+ characters like Galaxy, Xanthe Zhou, and Circuit Breaker.
Additionally, DC Comics’ multiverse sometimes results in different individuals assuming the same superhero identities on different timelines or universes, such as when Damien Wayne and Tim Drake both fight crime as Batman’s sidekick, Robin.
If young readers and free-speech advocates are holding out for a hero, DC Comics, one of the United States’ oldest and largest comic book publishers, might just be the streetwise Hercules they need. In the past year, the powerhouse publisher behind such iconic heroes as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman has quietly stood behind and even increased its LGBTQ content.
DC Comics’ continued production of queer content feels especially important in an era when several large corporations have reconsidered (or outright scaled back) their outward commitments to LGBTQ communities in response to conservative boycotts and some media pressure.