It’s February, which means love is in the air! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, AIPT writers Holly Woodbury, Ally Iciek, and Lia Galanis wanted to highlight some of their favorite LGBTQ+ couples in comic books. From rip-roaring action heroes to cool indie characters, here are some great queer relationships that give us the warm fuzzies.
Cass and Bee from Cosmoknights (Hannah Templer)
I got Cosmoknights as a Christmas present from a friend last year, and I was instantly blown away. Not just because of the rich world-building and utterly stellar art, but also because of the relationship between Cass and Bee. Set in an intergalactic, neo-medieval world where the princesses are won in a game of mech jousting, Cass and Bee are freedom fighters, liberating the women as they compete. The mutual goal of freeing women from tyranny is already amazing, but the chemistry between these two leaps off the page. Bee is the more calculated, rational one of the pair, while Cass is brash and all action. The opposites attract here, as their love and concern for one another is palpable, especially in the Cosmoknight joust scenes, which are incredibly suspenseful. I chose the image of them that I did because I think it perfectly encapsulates their relationship: different personalities and backgrounds, but love all the same. – Holly Woodbury
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy from DC Comics (Various)
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy encapsulate the image of “chaotic bisexuals.” Since the pair first met in Batman: The Animated Series, their chemistry has been inescapable. Whilst their status as a couple continues to be unstable under DC continuity, titles such as DC Bombshells have shown the potential of their relationship. I will always love Harley’s and Ivy’s capacity to show how much fun love can be! – Ally Iciek
Rictor and Shatterstar from X-Men (Various)
Julio “Rictor” Richter and Shatterstar met on the pages of Rob Liefeld’s X-Force. Liefeld may not have realized it (or even wanted it), but by introducing these two characters to each other, he was making queer comic history. Despite their wildly different backgrounds, Rictor and Shatterstar share the same lingering feeling of being out of place wherever they go. The companionship these X-Men formed was easily recognized as romantic by many Marvel readers — despite cultural, and sometimes authorial, resistance to the contrary. In volume three of Peter David’s X-Factor, the relationship between Rictor and Star’ was finally confirmed. Since then, the couple has experienced highs and lows, and are currently broken up. However, if the history between the two characters says anything, it is that these two men will always love each other unconditionally.
The relationship between Rictor and Shatterstar is probably my romantic dynamic in the Marvel universe. Here are two very flawed characters that often find it difficult to navigate through life. Between the chaos and the pain, both know that they can always fall back on the bond they have with each other. – Ally Iciek
Mia and Grace from On a Sunbeam (Tillie Walden)
If you can’t tell, I really like intergalactic stories. Unlike the non-stop, revolutionary story of Cosmoknights, On a Sunbeam is a lot more meditative and quiet in its approach to its main relationship between Mia and Grace. The book is told in flashbacks — showing their developing romance from boarding school classmates, to girlfriends, to being worlds apart. All this in a deeply emotional story of love, loss, and finding love again. I won’t give away the ending because everyone should read it, but one of the chapters contains hardly any dialogue, as we watch them go on a field trip that’s told entirely in images. The result is incredibly tender and sweet.
Unlike Cass and Bee — who have been together for a while — Mia and Grace are figuring it out through most of the book, so you watch the misunderstandings and arguments and ups and downs. All of this makes for a realistic portrayal of a young relationship that you will want to root for the whole way through. – Holly Woodbury
Karolina Dean and Nico Minoru from Runaways (Various)
The relationship between Karolina Dean and Nico Minoru has been a long time coming. After discovering their parents were part of a secret murder cult, Karolina and Nico joined their old friends to form the Runaways. Karolina was quick to open up about her affections towards Nico. However, Minoru initially rejected her advances. Despite this, it was clear that the feelings between the two girls were mutual — even if one could not quite understand them yet. In Rainbow Rowell’s take on the Runaways series, Nico and Karolina finally got together. Since then, the two have been depicted in a loving relationship, built on friendship and trust.
Oh, to be a lady with a magic staff alongside a girlfriend who is sustained by light. Nico and Karolina were a couple I was always attached to as a not-yet-out teenager. Now, in my 20s, it is great to see these girls together. Not only that, but their communicative and trust-built relationship is something to aspire to. – Ally Iciek
Haruka Tenouh and Michiru Kaioh from Sailor Moon (Naoko Takeuchi)
Haruka and Michiru — or Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune — absolutely own the status of distinguished gays. No wonder the inner-senshi are dazzled by them! These two Sailor Soldiers will face the end of the world together, and look good doing it.
I think I speak for all Sailor Moon fans when I say that this couple is positively iconic. Their unwavering respect for each other means that their partnership is timeless. Not to mention, they know how to have a good flirt. What’s not to love? – Ally Iciek
Julie Power and Brandon Sharpe from Avengers Academy (Christos Gage and Mike McKone)
Who said Valentine’s Day can only be romantic pairings? Here we have Julie Power and Brandon Sharpe from Avengers Academy. Their friendship was so pure, and it led to my favorite coming out scene of all time. Having Julie Power, a longstanding superhero, come out as bi was huge at the time — if only because I couldn’t even think of a time when any of my favorite characters could even say the word “bisexual.”
Avengers Academy ups the ante by having Brandon Sharpe come out to her, as the two discuss their identities as queer teens. Julie says she won’t out him, but she will be that ear to listen whenever he needs to talk — Brandon offers her the same courtesy. Having two queer characters unconditionally support each other and allow each other to come out on their own terms was incredibly powerful. I haven’t seen a coming-out scene have that weight since. They’re mlm/wlw solidarity icons. – Lia Galanis
Elle and Tao from Heartstopper (Alice Oseman)
I love so many aspects of Heartstopper. Whilst the leading relationship between Charlie and Nick is incredibly compelling, there’s a special place in my heart for Elle and Tao. Their background romance is so sweet, and provides some much-needed representation for trans girls in the form of Elle. It has been so fun to watch their relationship grow, as the two have gone from mutual crushes to fond girlfriend and boyfriend. – Ally Iciek
Wiccan and Hulking from Young Avengers (Various)
Former Young Avengers Billy Kaplan-Altman and Teddy Kaplan-Altman are one of the foremost most iconic queer couples in Marvel history. In many ways, the growing relationship between these two heroes has symbolically marked the progress of queer representation in comics since the mid-2000s. The romantic bond between Billy and Teddy emerged in the original Young Avengers series, written by Allan Heinberg and drawn by Jim Cheung. Since their debut, the two have endured the deaths of teammates and family, dramatic revelations, superhero civil wars, and so on. Despite everything, their love has remained strong. In Al Ewing’s and Valerio Schiti’s Empyre, the legendary pair were married. Teddy and Billy now live as space royalty, keeping peace in the cosmos.
The significance of Wiccan and Hulking should not be understated. These two are a vital pillar in the progress of queer representation in comics. In fact, they were one of the first queer couples I ever saw portrayed in popular media, period. With Billy’s debut in WandaVision, along with his bisexual brother, Tommy, we can only hope that these characters will once more bring queerness to an overwhelmingly heterosexual franchise. – Ally Iciek
Korra and Asami Sato from Legend of Korra (Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Irene Koh, and Michelle Wong)
Avatar Korra and Asami Sato were first seen in the Legend of Korra television series on Nickelodeon. Despite once being romantic rivals, the show eventually explored the chemistry between the women, without the unnecessary inclusion of a heterosexual love interest. The series finale of Legend of Korra ended with the surprise reveal that Korra and Asami had mutual romantic feelings towards each other. The comic adaptation of the series has since followed the couple as they balance romance with maintaining balance in the world. Whether on television on paper, Korra and Asami’s relationship has always felt like an organic and truthful depiction of a queer relationship.
I cried for about two hours at the end of Legend of Korra. The relationship between Korra and Asami represents an important intersection in Sapphic queerness between two Asian women, and the experience of finding love after trauma. The ensuing comics have so far been an interesting continuation of these themes, alongside some good ol’ fashioned bending battles. – Ally Iciek
Mystique and Destiny from X-Men (Various)
One relationship that really stands out to me is the one between Mystique and Destiny. For years, their relationship was told solely through queer subtext, mostly due to the restrictions at the time. However, writer Chris Claremont famously wanted the two to be together officially (and even wanted them to be Nightcrawler’s biological parents!) As such, readers would often get in-text moments that were obviously queer– for example, having Irene and Mystique exchange rings on a cruise ship in Peter David’s X-Factor Annual #6, or Mystique disguising herself as a man to dance with Irene in public. We’d see the two of them raising a child together through Rogue, and it was, for a long time, the only time we really saw Mystique’s softer side.
We knew what the narrative was trying to tell us, but it wasn’t until 2011, in Chaos War: X-Men, that Claremont and Louise Simonson finally had a chance to say, “Yes, they were in love” on-panel. It’s almost a shame we don’t get more of these flashback moments. To witness two people meet, fall in love, and grow old together — it’s actually incredibly romantic. Seeing their first on-panel kiss in History of the Marvel Universe #2 was such a big moment for a lot of queer X-Men fans. Indeed, Mystique has been with many people in her long life, but her longest and most loving relationship is, without a doubt, Destiny. – Lia Galanis
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