Pride Month may shine a particularly bright spotlight on the LGBTQIA+ community, but queer stories exist all year round, both in real life and in fiction. When it comes to comics, some of the most iconic queer romances have spanned years and even decades, especially at Marvel and DC.
For Pride 2022, Marvel is releasing a series of Star Wars covers featuring LGBTQIA+ characters from a galaxy far, far away for the second time, and debuting a new transgender mutant named Escapade in its Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1 anthology. The publisher is also releasing LGBTQIA+ content on the Marvel Unlimited app, including a brand new Iceman anthology series and limited series starring some of its most iconic couples for the Love Unlimited anthology.
DC is publishing an entire roster of LGBTQIA+ books, including a 100+ page Pride special, and the publisher has made a selection of queer comics free to read in its DC Universe Infinite app for the entire month of June.
As part of that celebration, we’re highlighting 10 of the most iconic LGBTQIA+ comics romances of all time, from anti-heroes in love to mutants who refuse to back down from their feelings.
Karolina Dean and Prince Xavin
Karolina Dean of the Runaways thought she was a normal human until she discovered her parents were actually world-conquering alien supervillains operating as part of a group called The Pride. When she and her friends – the aforementioned Runaways – flee their parents, Karolina removes the power-dampening bracelet placed on her by her parents, discovering her natural abilities of flight and solar manipulation.
But the revelation that her parents have lied to her and that she isn’t who she always believed herself to quickly bring even more shocking surprises for Karolina, who discovers her parents have betrothed her to a Skrull Prince named Xavin, a genderfluid Skrull who uses they/them pronouns, as part of an arranged marriage meant to broker peace with the Skrull Empire.
After Xavin’s own parents die, they seek out Karolina, revealing the betrothal to the shocked young hero. As it turns out, Karolina and Xavin bond quickly, and develop mutual romantic feelings for each other that grow to be quite powerful indeed. Their wedding falls through, but that only seems to make them love each other more, which is not only powerful but incredibly sweet.
Mystique and Destiny
Though it remains to be seen whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, longtime villains-turned-Krakoan politicians Mystique and Destiny are mutantkind’s current power couple, following Destiny’s resurrection and their upending of the Quiet Council’s status quo in the recent Inferno limited series.
And they’ve certainly earned their place as mutant matriarchs. Mystique and Destiny first came together in 1981’s Uncanny X-Men #141, the first half of the iconic ‘Days of Future Past’ story, with Mystique recruiting Destiny to her new Brotherhood of Mutants group.
Over the years, Mystique and Destiny’s romance became subtext, with their shared history of parenting Rogue of the X-Men, and then eventually outright text, confirming the villains/anti-heroes are one of the Marvel Universe’s longest-running queer couples. In fact, later stories even established that both Destiny and Mystique have been alive for far longer than average human lifespans, and have shared a romance for decades.
Rictor and Shatterstar
Mutant heroes Rictor and Shatterstar first met as co-members of the paramilitary team X-Force, fighting alongside each other through some of the most harrowing battles of mutant history. But it wasn’t until they both became part of X-Factor Investigations that their mutual respect blossomed into mutual attraction.
After forming a close bond as friends, in which Shatterstar even learned Spanish to speak privately with Rictor, Shatterstar confessed to his friend that he was reluctant to engage in any kind of physical relationship because of his emotionally distant upbringing in the alt-reality known as Mojoworld.
Rictor vowed to help his friend through the emotional challenges of finding love, and though it took years before friendship turned to romance, it turned out the love and care Shatterstar had long sought lay with Rictor all along.
Angela and Sera
The odd history of the angelic hero known as Angela begins outside of Marvel Comics with Image Comics, where she first appeared as a supporting character in Spawn. After the character’s creator Neil Gaiman won ownership of Angela in a complex legal dispute, she made her way to the Marvel Universe.
There, her history was revised to reveal that she is the first child of Odin of Asgard. Angela was raised in a secret 10th Realm of the Asgardian cosmology known as Heven, after Heven’s ruler waged war on Asgard.
In Heven, Angela forged a relationship with Sera, one of the 10th Realm’s native inhabitants, which blossomed into an ages-long romance. The bond between Sera and Angela is so strong that, when Sera was killed after Angela escaped Heven into the larger Marvel Universe, Angela undertook a quest into Hel itself to restore her to life.
Sadly, Angela and Sera eventually parted ways, with Sera finding a new mission as the protector of a group of refugees and remaining with them as Angela traveled on. However, they’re still very much in love, so the possibility of a reunion is still alive.
Scandal Savage and Knockout
One is the undying daughter of an immortal supervillain, the other a super-strong warrior raised on an unflinching hellworld. But together, Scandal Savage and Knockout managed to overcome the brutality of their upbringings to find true love – even if that love was often soaked in blood and violence.
As the daughter of the immortal tyrant Vandal Savage, Scandal Savage was raised to survive and to kill. Similarly, the Female Fury known as Knockout was raised by the vicious taskmaster Granny Goodness on her homeworld of Apocalypse.
Somehow, through all of that, Scandal and Knockout forged a romantic bond as two of the core members of the Secret Six that lasted even beyond death, with Scandal leading her team on a mission to collect a literal ‘Get Out of Hell Free’ card to rescue Knockout’s soul from the infernal afterlife.
The pair haven’t been seen together since 2011 when DC continuity rebooted as the ‘New 52’, but Scandal and Knockout still have fans (Newsarama among them) who hope for their return on the page someday.
Cyclops and Wolverine and Jean Grey
Although Marvel hasn’t officially declared this polycule canon, it’s been heavily implied since Jonathan Hickman relaunched the entire X-Men line in 2019 that Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean Grey are in a polyamorous relationship.
This has been a long time coming. Wolverine has always had feelings for Jean, whose marriage to Scott Summers is a key element of their stories. But in the Krakoan era of mutantkind, they’re all living in the Summers’s house, and Jean’s room conveniently has access to both men’s sleeping quarters, which also means they both have access to her room and each other’s.
Scott and Logan flirt heavily across the various X-Men titles, and their interactions more than imply that they’re sleeping together. Logan’s comments about Jean’s beauty prompt Scott to agree or say something about himself in return, and in general, whatever jealousy or animosity existed between these two in previous incarnations of the X-Men has evaporated.
Plus, gossip from Mister Sinister hints at that and more, and the proximity of Cyclops, Wolverine and Jean’s bodies in any given panel where they share space is blatant. We think it’s safe to assume this polycule is canon, and deserves celebrating.
Midnighter and Apollo
It may be simplifying things just a bit to say that Midnighter and Apollo of The Authority are alt-reality versions of Batman and Superman from DC’s Omniverse, but that’s also the basic jumping-off point that made the early revelation of their ongoing romantic relationship so intriguing to readers.
Though Midnighter and Apollo may indeed be ‘Variants’ (to borrow a Marvel phrase) of Batman and Superman, aside from their thematic connections to the totally platonic Batman and Superman as a dark vigilante and an alien powerhouse, the couple are far, far different from their classic DC counterparts. Primarily, they differ in attitude and outlook thanks to their origins in the original WildStorm Universe.
There may be something just slightly titillating about the idea of a Batman and Superman who are in love, thanks to decades of prurient jokes. But Midnighter and Apollo’s romance has always been taken seriously, forming one of the most iconic, action-packed, dramatically engaging super-couples in all of comic books.
Northstar and Kyle Jinadu
Jean-Paul Beaubier and his twin sister, Jeanne-Marie, were separated at birth and grew up without each other, but they eventually reunited and even joined the superhero team Alpha Flight together. They also co-founded Team Northstar Extreme Snowsports when Jean-Paul started snowboarding and, eventually – through less-than-honest means – became an Olympic athlete.
When Jeanne-Marie realized how much of a handful her brother could be, she asked her longtime friend Kyle Jinadu to become the public relations representative for Team Northstar, hoping he could help the brand and keep Jean-Paul, its CEO, under control. She didn’t bet on Jean-Paul and Kyle falling in love, but they did – and they quickly became one of the most iconic couples in Marvel history.
Dating a superhero comes with its perks, but it also comes with plenty of danger: Kyle has faced kidnapping, brainwashing, and even death on multiple occasions, though he’s always made it out alive thanks to Jean-Paul and, often enough, the X-Men. After one particularly terrible event in which Kyle was kidnapped by the Marauders and mind-controlled by an infected Karma, Jean-Paul was so relieved to get him back safe and sound that he proposed.
When Jean-Paul and Kyle got married in Central Park a week after Jean-Paul’s proposal, it was the social event of the season – and also a major milestone in Marvel Comics history, as the first on-page wedding for a gay couple. The pair tied the knot in 2012’s Astonishing X-Men #51 and they are still going strong 10 years later, with Kyle living alongside Northstar on the mutant island of Krakoa as one of the island’s very few non-mutant inhabitants.
Wiccan and Hulkling
Billy Kaplan, AKA Wiccan, is a wildly powerful warlock, and the reincarnated son of Scarlet Witch and Vision. After the disbanding of the Avengers, he was recruited to join a new team of superheroes by Iron Lad, using a “failsafe” compiled by Vision. This team came to be known as the Young Avengers, and Billy joined alongside his new boyfriend, Teddy Altman, AKA Hulkling.
Teddy initially believes he’s a mutant shapeshifter, but he later discovers his parents are Kree warriors hiding on Earth to keep him away from the Skrull. That’s because his parents are hiding yet another secret: Teddy is actually the secret son of the legendary Kree hero Mar-Vell and the Skrull princess, meaning it’s completely up to him to unite these two empires that have been at war for eons. He eventually becomes Emperor Dorrek VIII, unites the Kree and Skull, and ends not only their conflicts with each other but with Earth.
Along the way, Teddy and Billy get married, further cementing their relationship and status as one of the most powerful couples in Marvel history. In 2019, their long-overdue first on-panel kiss in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade made the mayor of Rio de Janeiro ban the comic (opens in new tab) from the 19th International Book Biennial, sparking worldwide controversy as the book instead saw a major boost in sales.
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy
Harley Quinn has always been a bit of a flirt, but it was never clear if she actually had feelings for anyone other than the Clown Prince of Crime. Then in 2015, writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti wrote her first in-continuity, on-panel kiss with Poison Ivy, and confirmed that the romantic overtones of their relationship weren’t just in readers’ heads – they were real.
The pair became non-monogamous girlfriends, and have since become one of the most iconic queer couples ever – even if they do go back and forth from on-again, to off-again pretty regularly. As the DC Universe continues to shift, so do Harley and Ivy, and in some ways, they represent one of the healthiest relationships in comics – they communicate and leave space for each other to grow, while also recognizing that being together may not always be the best thing for either of them, no matter how strong their feelings.
Meanwhile, the pair are also a canonical couple in Harley Quinn: The Animated Series, with a tie-in limited series for the show titled Harley Quinn: The Eat, Bang, and Kill Tour recently putting that version of their romance front and center. And of course, fans remain hopeful that Margot Robbie’s Harley will someday share a live-action romance with Poison Ivy in the DCEU.
Some of the characters seen here are among the most iconic LGBTQIA+ superheroes in comic books.