I routinely write about the presence of LGBTQ characters in kids animation because their presence in shows like Steven Universe, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts has become routine (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy -- Pride Without Punishment"). Most recently, I wrote about an episode of Disney's The Owl House where the central lead Luz canonically came out as being bisexual (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy-- For The Win"). With mainstream comics, however, progress comes to comics a whole lot slower.
One example of this slow progress is Harley Quinn and Poison in animation versus Harley Quinn in DC Comics. In the animated Harley Quinn series streaming on DC Universe (for a little while longer) and HBO Max, the pair are in a loving, sexual, and complicated relationship. And word has come down from a DC FanDome panel that if there is a third season of the show there are plans to “focus on Harley and Ivy’s relationship”.
But in the comics, their relationship is seemingly cooling down a bit. Some have previously accused DC Comics of "straightwashing" Ivy and Harley Quinn's relationship, and muzzled their writers from discussing the relationship.SyFy Wire. So, it wasn’t entirely out of character for a recently resurrected Ms. Pryde to kiss an artist she just met after getting a tattoo. Which was all kinds of weird, awkward, and random, but definitely not entirely out of character.
It was a moment that was undoubtedly meant to be progressive, maybe even a little transgressive, but instead, ended up being problematic on a whole lot of levels. Let’s stick a pin in the whole out-of-character or not issue for a moment and circle back to the tattoo; Kitty isn’t just Jewish, she's one of the most prominent Jews in comics. Jewish law forbids tattoos. And while that’s never stopped Jews from getting tattoos and the story confirmed that Kitty wasn’t religiously observant, the optics of her going into a tattoo parlor wearing a Star of David around her neck just seems a little weird.
But the optics of the jacket that she was also wearing was a strange fashion choice; it makes her look like a member of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. So let’s move on to the awkward; Kitty gave a full-on kiss on the lips to a “complete rando” (as someone on Twitter put it) as a gratuity instead of someone she had actual feelings for, like Rachel Summers, who fans have long shipped her with. Most of her fans though were just happy to finally see her “explicitly showing her sexuality”, and in this instance, it seems to have worked out successfully to everyone’s satisfaction. But that being said, this was (excuse me) totally a dick move on Kitty’s part.
And the kiss was enough for some fans to declare Kitty Pryde a “Gay Icon”, not unlike the actress Ellen Page who played Kitty in two X-Men films, The Last Stand and Days of Future Past. So far, we haven’t gotten an official response from Ms. Page about the news, but I have to believe she must be pleased.
But as someone who frequently advocates for a more realistic depiction of psychotherapy in comics (see “Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy - Spider-Man: A Suitable Case For Treatment”), I need to point out that the actual story in this issue features the first therapy session of an emotionally fragile Nova, and Ewing pretty much nails the experience of seeing a therapist. I’d like to see more of this sort of thing as well, please.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.