Lonely Gods:
Social Minorities in American Superhero Comic Books

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The Children's Crusade #1

Article written 8-9-10

Recently a new Young Avengers series started. Young Avengers is one of the better comic series introduced during the last few years, but unfortunately was plagued by several delays in the first series. The characters then bounced around through several miniseries and crossovers, and now are back in their own nine issue limited series.

embrace
A special moment

So why am I excited about this? Mainly because Young Avengers features an excellent portrayal of two openly gay characters in a relationship with each other. When the characters Billy and Teddy were introduced in the first series, they set off a firestorm of controversy when some readers thought the two appeared to be flirting with each other. For several issues the letter pages of Young Avengers was a battleground between the readers who wanted gay characters in comics, and those who did not. Author Allen Heinberg finally officially outed Billy and Teddy in the seventh issue, and the controversy appeared to die down a bit. (or, the editors simply stopped printing the letters that addressed it).

Since then, Young Avengers has made no secret that Billy and Teddy are both gay and in a continuing relationship with each other. This latest issue keeps up this trend. There are several scenes, such as the one to the right, where the two characters are shown as being in a relationship and even getting romantic with each other. And while Billy is a major focus of this issue (and presumably, this entire series), these scenes are not given any more attention than other events in the comic. Billy and Teddy's relationship is simply shown as being part of their lives, something so normal that it doesn't require an entire issue to discuss it. And this is the way it should be.

What is fascinating about this is how different this treatment of homosexuality is to comics of previous years. When Northstar came out in the early 1990s, his sexuality was not mentioned again for years. Here, we now have teenage characters who are not only openly gay, but boyfriends too. That is considerable social progress from the days of Alpha Flight. I have something to say about how this and other comics reflect ongoing social acceptance, but I shall leave that for a more in depth article.

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