Each year Pride Month seems to bring along several Top 10 LGBTQ character lists scattered across comic book news sites. This isn’t a bad thing–not that long ago you would have been hard-pressed to find 10 major LGBTQ characters in mainstream comic books–but sometimes the lists get a little predictable. Northstar, Batwoman, Wiccan and Hulking–these are all great characters, but I wanted to shine a spotlight on LGBTQ comic characters that are frequently underrated. So as Pride Month comes to a close, here are my Top 10 LGBTQ characters from indie comics, manga, or just comics you may not have read. Onward!
Sporting a head of neon green hair, Susan lives on an apocalyptic future Earth and is a member of the warrior-caste known as Grendels. Though many of her fellow Grendels have grown weak and corrupt, Susan is intensely noble and loyal to the family of the Grendel Khan. Unfortunately Susan’s lovers–like the manipulative Crystal Kennedy–either betray her or end up dead, but Susan finally finds peace and purpose by aligning herself with the equally duty-bound cyborg Grendel Prime.
Peter Milligan and Michael Allred’s X-Force/X-Statix gave Marvel’s mutant franchise a much-needed shot in the arm in the early ’00s, as well as a unique cast of misfits. Among them is Myles Alfred, a repressed literary scholar by day, and mutant werewolf reality show star–also by day. Erudite and sarcastic, Myles faked an affair with Eminem-lookalike teammate Phat for ratings, only to realize he was actually gay. Myles even had his own “mutant cure” plotline–a rare example of the X-Men’s “minority metaphor” starring a mutant who was actually queer.
Sporting a jacket straight out of Quadrophenia, Twitch the sole mod in his family of punks. Twitch is the son of legendary punk musicians Dirk and Nikki Hopeless-Savage, and reunites with the rest of his scattered siblings (Zero, Rat, and Arsenal) in the first Hopeless Savages miniseries to rescue their kidnapped parents. A dedicated (and somewhat hyperactive) painter, Twitch gets even more page time in the second miniseries, where he’s reunited with his first love, actor Claude Shi.
If you only know Blue is the Warmest Color from the 2013 feature film, I highly recommend you check out Julie Maroh’s original graphic novel. Emma is a punkish artist and activist in mid-90s France, and the true love of the book’s narrator, Clementine. Her first glimpse of the blue-haired, blue-eyed Emma literally fills Clementine’s world with color, but she’s not an unattainable dream girl. Their relationship is messy and complicated–Emma is technically still with her old girlfriend Sabine when she begins seeing Clementine, and she’s never fully accepted by Clementine’s parents–but their love endures despite tragedy.
Isabella is a member of the punk/gothic lolita fashion club Paradise Kiss that takes manga heroine Yukari under their wing. A teenage trans woman, Isabella is the self-described “black sheep” of her wealthy family, and was raised primarily by an Alfred Pennyworth-like butler. Isabella has a positive, calming influence over the group, and believes in fashion as an inspirational force. A childhood flashback to her friend George making Isabella her first dress is one of the most poignant moments in the series.
As the newest character on this list, there’s still a lot to learn about Gwendolyn. A native of the moon Wreath that’s been at war with the planet Landfall for generations, Gwen joins the bounty hunter known as The Will in pursuit of her defecting ex-fiancee, Marko. Gwen is a skilled combatant and practitioner of a magic, and despite their bickering, she falls in love with The Will and ends up with an even bigger grudge against Marko and his family. Little is known about Gwen’s past as of yet, but a hallucination reveals that her first lover was a lovely, full-figured woman with a unicorn horn. I can’t wait for that flashback.
A buff, tattooed ex-marine, Bradbury is the sole witness to the mysterious accident that gives engineer Mitchell Hundred the ability to control and communicate with machines. Bradbury and Hundred become nearly inseparable, with Bradbury acting as Mitchell’s friend and confidante when he becomes the superhero The Great Machine, and later as Mitchell’s head of security when he becomes mayor of New York City. Behind Bradbury’s fierce loyalty is fear of abandonment–his father left him as a child, and he once had a bitter divorce–and his love for Mitchell is revealed far too late.
The fourth of Ramona Flowers’s “Evil Exes,” Roxie is the lone girl in the group and possibly the most quotable. (“You punched me in the boob!”) She’s a blonde half-ninja and fine artist, and notably the only Evil Ex Ramona still gets along with–though that doesn’t stop Roxie from trying to cut Scott in half with her katana. The Ramona vs. Roxie battle in subspace, complete with roller skates and Scott’s head sticking out of Ramona’s subspace purse, is my personal favorite of the series. Roxie was memorably played by Mae Whitman in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, though the film didn’t quite do justice to her plotline. If Bryan Lee O’Malley ever considers a Scott Pilgrim spin-off, I’d totally read one about Roxie.
Maggie and Hopey are the central protaginists of Jaime Hernandez’s sprawling epic Locas, and though their relationship has many ups and downs, separations and reconciliations, they’re forever linked. The series covers their early childhood well throughout their adulthood in their California hometown Huerta (or Hoppers), with Maggie as a lovable but insecure mechanic, and Hopey an impetuous punk rocker. Without Maggie and Hopey, there’d be no Strangers in Paradise, and the alt rock band Love and Rockets may have been named Hate and Dirigibles instead. “But then how can Maggie and Hopey be underrated?” you ask. Well, Love and Rockets is one of those titles that’s frequently acknowledged as a classic, but is somehow never read nearly enough. (I inexplicably put off reading it for the longest time, myself.) Maggie and Hopey are two of the most fully developed and beautifully drawn women in comics, and definitely deserve your time.