Queering Wolverine

It’s difficult to find feminism in comic books. The women are generally drawn as sex objects and a majority of them are characters either to be the token woman on the team or to serve as a love interest for the main character. But don’t worry, I don’t plan on rehashing old arguments about comic book women.

I’d given up on the X-men for a while-though this was less of a decision for feminist reasons and more because to keep up with the X-men you need to be reading 4 or 5 different series. Still, I hadn’t read any recent X-men at all until my mom got me X-Treme X-men #6 for no other reason than that she thought I would find the cover amusing.

I found it very amusing actually. I’m always ready to laugh at Spiderman lunch boxes, especially when they’re held by other, much cooler, Marvel heroes like Nightcrawler.

I was expecting to read this and be more than a little confused. It’s in the middle of a series run, it’s an alternate universe I know nothing about, and I’m reading only 15 pages out of a more complex story.

From what I gathered from the plot, Wolverine and Dazzler are traveling across different universes to stop versions of Charles Xavier  from destroying worlds. The comic was nothing special until I came to a conversation between Wolverine and Dazzler that did more for feminism than I’ve seen in almost any comic. In this alternate universe, Wolverine is queer.

Take a look at the conversation:

As I mentioned in my post regarding the Doctrine of Labyrinths series, it is a big step for feminism when writers craft queer characters because it works against the notion that gay is feminine and feminine is what you don’t want to be. The author of the comic, Greg Pak, however does more for feminism than if he had just created a character who is gay.

This is Wolverine. He is a recognizable symbol of masculinity and his feelings for Hercules  are treated with respect. Look at the panel focused on Wolverine’s face when he talks about “any man…loving another” and see how his feelings for another man are not sensationalized or played for laughs, but are genuine and treated as such. Queering Wolverine is such a bold move not only in the fact that it makes readers rethink sexuality, but that Wolverine is an established character; it is not possible for this Wolverine’s personality to be stripped down to the word gay.

Hercules is bisexual in the canon Marvel universe, adding another layer of feminism to promote the fact that sexuality is not a gay-straight binary.  Masculinity is not the clearly marked ideal people wish to believe in.

It is such a relief to know there are authors out there who are willing to make their readers understand that being queer is not about being masculine or feminine and it’s not a person’s only attribute either. I don’t think I’ll continue to read X-Treme X-Men, but I am glad I got a hold of the issue that I’m sharing with you.

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2 thoughts on “Queering Wolverine

  1. Whoa, that’s super cool. I’d seen a couple of covers of the the x-men series where you male characters were married, but I haven’t read them yet. At twenty-two I’ve just gotten into comic books with the Invincible and Walking Dead series.

  2. Thanks for posting this. It’s nice to be reminded of simple easy to overlook things that make the world a nicer place to be.

    I think part of what’s most astonishing about this, based entirely on my minimal background knowledge of the series and this post, is how sensitively Howlett is portrayed. Especially given that the other partner is Marvel’s Hercules, this could easily have been the manliest paring ever, but I think the decision to avoid that forces both the relationship and the series to stand on it’s own a little and that’ a pretty bold move.

    All of that being said, and as someone who usually doesn’t care for people arguing about a character’s sexual preferences once they’ve been strongly defined, it would surprise me if 616-verse Logan has not had some consensual sexual experience that could generally be defined as queer.

    Also that panel is heartbreaking.

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