Marvel got a Drag Queen now

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If you’re into superhero comics at all, you might want to hop on the Iceman spin-off train. Marvel’s making good choices, thanks in large part to writer Sina Grace.

The fourth issue of the recently launched series introduced a new mutant. She possesses teleportation powers, and she can create and enter a pocket dimension inside her handheld folding fan. Oh yeah, she’s also Marvel’s first drag queen superhero. And her name is Shade.

It’s a fitting entry point for the new mutant. Iceman is the only running Marvel series to feature a queer lead character. Bobby Drake, Iceman’s alter-ego, is an openly gay man who wrestles with his multiple, overlapping identities in the pages of the spin-off series.

The spin-off marks a return to Iceman for Grace, who was also the writer on a 2017 series featuring the character (and struggling with his identity). It was cancelled after only 11 issues, despite critical acclaim and a GLAAD Media Award nomination. The sales just weren’t there.

The trade paperback releases were a different story. The two larger books containing all 11 issues of the original spin-off series sold much better than the individual issues, and so Marvel brought Grace back for another Iceman series in 2018. Shade made her debut in the new spin-off’s fourth issue.

“I really wanted this series to push readers to new and better stories about the whole queer experience and how it applies to being both a mutant and a superhero,” Grace said in a recent interview with The Advocate. “There’s a million different queer perspectives and we’re only scratching the surface.”

Shade’s story is only at its very beginning. She pops up again in Iceman #5, and she’ll also make an appearance in X-Men: Winter’s End, a special “annual” issue that should be out in February. There’s presumably more to come than that, but that’s all we know for now.

 

That Blue Sky Feeling

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School is difficult for most people for one reason or another, but when you’re the only gay kid in class, it can get awkward. The manga That Blue Sky Feeling is about just that — at least at first. When Noshiro moves to a new city, he wonders why the other kids tend to leave Sanada alone. Being the overly friendly sort, Noshiro can’t let that stand and makes it his mission to make friends. And the rumours that Sanada might be gay don’t dissuade him — even if that stirs up some unknown feelings in Noshiro.

That Blue Sky Feeling is a really sweet manga. The story starts when Noshiro sees that Sanada is alone and he initially tries to befriend Sanada out of kindness. But when Sanada confirms that the rumours are true — and he is, in fact, gay — Noshiro’s not sure what to think. Not in a homophobic way; if anything, Noshiro goes too far in trying to appear okay with Sanada’s homosexuality. But instead, Noshiro starts wondering if he might also be gay. (And that he might just have a crush on Sanada. Strike that. He definitely has a crush on Sanada.)

The tone and feel of the story is pleasant and rather slice of life than drama. Though the other students are leery of Sanada, once Noshiro admonishes them, Sanada’s welcomed back into the group — even if Sanada’s ostraciation is hinted to be part of Sanada’s own desires to be alone. Noshiro is sometimes clumsy with his emotions, but he’s always shown as at least trying to do the right thing; and when he does screw up, it’s nothing major.

Sanada soon introduces Noshiro to Hide, Sanada’s ex-boyfriend and an, at least compared to the high-school kids, “older” guy — Hide is 26. He ends up becoming somewhat of a mentor-figure to the two boys, though, and Noshiro goes to him to find out more about not just Sanada, but about being gay and whether or not he’s gay himself.

That Blue Sky Feeling started out as a webcomic that was redrawn for the print edition. It’s also the debut for the creators, writer Okura and illustrator Coma Hashii. Hopefully we’ll keep seeing more from these talented creators and their authentic take on the gay coming-of-age story.

Batman is not allowed to have a penis because people are whack

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Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s Batman: Damned #1, the first in DC Comics’ Black Label series for “mature readers”, reveals a new look at the Caped Crusader. You can have a look below:

Inevitably body shame is still a hot trend in the 21st century, even in a publication made specifically for adults. So objection to the revelation actually prompted DC to edit the superjunk out in digital editions. And Bleeding Cool reports that some retailers in more conservative areas of the U.S. are calling to make the comic returnable. Because we all know that smashing people to a gulp with baseball bats is all good but showing the human body goes too far, right?

Go For It, Nakamura!

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It’s almost like we’re in a modern renaissance of queer anime and manga. Titles like My Brother’s HusbandMy Lesbian Experience With Loneliness and Yuri!!! on Ice have broken out to become mainstream hits. The latest release that has us excited is Go For It, Nakamura!, a manga about a young gay teen who tries to work up the courage to befriend his crush.

The English-language edition of Go For It, Nakamura! came out on July 3, and it’s already been getting positive reviews. The book collects the original story, published in the Boyslove manga anthology Opera.

Go For It, Nakamura! by Syundei, tells the story of Nakamura, a shy high-schooler who falls in love with Hirose, his classmate. Unfortunately, they don’t know each other, and Nakamura would desperately love to change that — but he’s worried that his klutziness might turn Hirose off. Also, Nakamura has a pet octopus. (That doesn’t really have to do with anything, it’s just awesome.)

Though when people think of BL manga, they often think of highly sexual works with dubious anatomy — in My Lesbian Experience, author Nagata Kabi refers to the “yaoi hole, a mysterious organ that doesn’t appear to be the anus is position, shape or function” — Go For It, Nakamura! isn’t even about progressing beyond friendship. While there are hints that Hirose might himself be gay, Nakamura is satisfied to start out as friends — and if things progress, they progress.

For Japanese readers who want more Go For It, Nakamura!, as of last year, a sequel, Go For It More, Nakamura!, is serialised in current issues of Opera. There’s no word yet as to an English translation of the sequel.