Archive for the ‘LGBT Characters’ Category

Moondragon

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

By Mike McDermott

[Note: this profile dates from its original appearance on this site and does not reflect any info or events from the Annihilation mini series or Guardians of the Galaxy comic.]

When she was three years old, Heather Douglass and her parents were driving back to L.A. after a short vacation. They saw in the sky a scout ship belonging to the mad Titan named Thanos. In order to prevent them from telling anyone what they saw, he attacked their car, forcing it off the road, and killing both of Heather’s parents. Heather was the only survivor of the crash. She was rescued by Mentor, ruler of Titan, and Thanos’ father who opposed his son’s violent activities. Mentor took Heather back to Titan, where she was placed in the Shao-Lom monastery. She was raised by the monks, and taught their extensive physical and mental disciplines, as well as helping her develop her latent psionic abilities. She grew up to become an accomplished athlete, martial artist and geneticist.

Upon reaching adulthood, she took the name Moondragon, and joined in the fight against Thanos. This fight brought her into the company of the Avengers, whom she briefly joined. Being raised apart from humanity, and having attained physical and mental perfection, Moondragon considered herself a goddess, and superior to most of her teammates. Her somewhat arrogant attitude prevented her from fully fitting in with the team, and she stayed with them only a short time, although she remains an ally.

During her time with the Avengers, Moondragon learned she had her physical and mental training had been part of preparing her for the role of the Celestial Madonna. The Celestial Madonna was to be a perfect human woman who would mate with the perfect plant-being and become the mother to the Celestial Messiah, who would herald in a new golden age for the universe. Moondragon was one of two women who were groomed for this role. The other was the Avenger known as Mantis. Although the two of them possessed equal training and skill, Moondragon was found to be lacking in humanity, so Mantis was chosen instead.

Moondragon’s had a tumultuous career as a superhero, and was even briefly a villain, when she was corrupted into imposing her will on others “for the greater good”. She even enslaved the entire population of an alien world, but was defeated by the Avengers. She was eventually freed from the corrupting influence, and has since made every effort to atone for her past mistakes.

More recently, she returned to Los Angeles to help train the new Captain Marvel, to properly control his cosmic awareness. During her training of Captain Marvel, she also got to know his friend Marlo Chandler Jones. When it was revealed that Marlo had developed a potentially dangerous ability known as the “death wish”, Heather began training Marlo to safely control this new ability. Heather and Marlo became close during this process, and even shared a passionate kiss, which came as a shock to both women. Although Moondragon had past relationships with men, they were lacking any real emotion and were mostly a means to an end for her. Marlo was the first person whom Heather really made an emotional connection with. Marlo explained the situation to her husband, and she and Moondragon began to explore their new relationship.

They spent a few happy months together, but eventually Marlo decided she wanted to return to her husband. Moondragon understood, and they agreed to remain friends always.

At this time, Marlo and Moondragon were targeted by the Magus, an evil sorcerer who is an enemy of Captain Marvel. Marvel’s younger sister, Phyla, was sent to bodyguard Marlo while he went into the future to deal with the Magus’ schemes elsewhere. Moondragon was gravely injured fighting the Magus, and he saved her life, to make her indebted to him so that he could continue to manipulate and control her in the future. During his time travelling, Captain Marvel saw a distant future where Moondragon was a faithful servant of the Magus.

In the present day, after the Magus was defeated for now, Moondragon moved out of the apartment once her relationship with Marlo ended. She also told Marlo and Rick that Marlo’s attraction to her was the result of the Magus’ manipulations; that he had been stimulating emotional responses out of her to make her easier to manipulate, and that due to her telepathic powers, that spilled over and affected Marlo as well.

However, this was simply a story Moondragon came up with in order to allow Marlo to find happiness again with Rick, without their brief affair complicating matters. Phyla overheard the story, and told Moondragon that she knew it was a lie–and that she found that noble sacrifice to be very attractive. She apparently became attracted to Moondragon while helping protect Marlo, and now that Moondragon was single, wanted to pursue a relationship with her. Moondragon was interested, and they were lasted seen heading off together into a spatial portal into an unknown adventure.

Moondragon has had a number of past involvements with men, but they all were lacking any emotional connection. She once unsuccessfully pursued Quasar as her “perfect mate”. That was more about conceiving a child rather than any kind of relationship.

Moondragon’s recently revealed lesbianism possibly puts her mentoring of Patsy Walker, the Avenger known as Hellcat, in a new light. Like Marlo, Patsy was an attractive, brave red head. When Moondragon first left the Avengers, she took Patsy with her and trained her. While it has never been suggested that there was any kind of romantic relationship between the two, the physical similarities between Patsy and Marlo does raise a few questions.

As a very powerful psionic Moondragon is very capable of projecting her thoughts to others, reading other people’s thoughts and even taking control of their minds. She also has telekinetic abilities, allowing herself to fly, and move objects with her mind. She can also project bursts of pure mental force, or create a Her body is trained to ultimate human perfection, and she is a master of martial arts.

Moondragon has served as a priestess, and as a superhero she has been affiliated with the Avengers, Defenders, Infinity Watch and most recently the Guardians of the Galaxy. On Earth she was based in Los Angeles, New York, and Colorado. Off Earth she as was located on Titan and the Knowhere, a space station situated in the head of a dead Celestial.

Her first appearance is in Iron Man #54 (vol 1) and her sexuality is shown in Captain Marvel #32 (vol 3).

See the entries for Phyal-Vell and Quasar.

Phyla-Vell

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

By Mike McDermott

Phyla-Vell is a heroine who has taken on various identities during her adventuring career, frequently trying to live up to the legacies of others.  She is the daughter of the original Captain Mar-Vell, and trained all her life in combat in order to follow in her father’s and brother’s footsteps as a hero.  She eventually got her chance when her brother Genis, who was carrying the “Captain Marvel” legacy at the time, went insane from his Cosmic Awareness.  Phyla adopted the Captain Marvel name and uniform and fought to subdue Genis and help restore him to sanity.  Phyla fought alongside the recovered Genis for a time, along with his ally Moondragon (Heather Douglas).  The two women soon become involved, and left to explore the universe together.  After Genis’ death, Phyla realized she was not yet ready to carry on the “Captain Marvel” legacy, and willingly gave up the title.

Phyla was one of the many intergalactic heroes who joined forces to fight the Annihilation Wave invasion of our universe.  During the final battle against Annihilus, Phyla gained possession of the quantum bands of the fallen hero Quasar (Wendell Vaughn).  Feeling that the bands had chosen her, Phyla decided to become the new Quasar.  She and Moondragon also helped battle the Phalanx invasion of the Kree Empire, but Moondragon was killed in action.

As Quasar, Phyla was one of the founding members of Star-Lord’s team of interstellar heroes, the Guardians of the Galaxy.  While on leave from the team, Phyla and Drax the Destroyer (Moondragon’s father) rescued Moondragon from the realm of the dead and restored her to life.  In exchange for Heather’s resurrection, Phyla made a deal with Oblivion to become the new avatar of Death, replacing the late avatar, Thanos.  Phyla kept this deal secret from her teammates and took on the new identity of Martyr, relinguishing the Quasar identity and quantum bands back to a newly-resurrected Wendell Vaughn.

Becoming Martyr seemed to affect more than just her powers; Phyla was more aggressive and violent, bringing her into conflict with team leader Star-Lord when she became insubordinate.  To fulfill her agreement with Oblivion, Martyr attempted to assassinate her fellow Guardian, Adam Warlock.  However, Warlock survived the attempt–but transformed into his own dark reflection, the Magus.  The Magus captured Phyla and several other Guardians, tricking their teammates into believing that they were killed.  However, Phyla’s psychic bond with Moondragon allowed Heather to learn that Phyla was still alive.  Martyr and the others managed to escape, but Phyla was killed by Thanos when he was resurrected and resumed his role as Avatar of Death.  Whether or not Phyla will manage to cheat death yet again remains to be seen.

Phyla’s powers varied from identity to identity.  Her natural-born powers as a Kree/Titanian hybrid include flight and superhuman strength.  As both Captain Marvel and Quasar she was able to absorb and project large amounts of energy.  As Captain Marvel she possessed cosmic awareness (a form of psychic link with the universe itself), but that ability faded away for unrevealed reasons.  As Quasar she was able to create constructs out of quantum energy, limited only by her imagination–anything she could visualize, she could create.  She frequently used a sword constructed out of quantum energy–a weapon she that continued to use after she became Martyr.  If she had gained any new powers as Martyr, they were unrevealed at the time of her death.

Read a more in-depth profile of Phyla at this page. Please also read the Moondragon profile.

© and ® Marvel Comics. All rights reserved.

Rob Silverman

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

By Mike McDermott

Rob is the boyfriend of Jean-Paul “Frenchie” DuChamps, the former mercenary who has served as pilot and sidekick to the superhero Moon Knight.

In addition to co-owning a restaurant called “En Table” with Frenchie, Rob also works as a physiotherapist and helps Moon Knight to train and recover from injuries he sustains while crimefighting. Rob is a supporter of Moon Knight’s violent vigilante activities, believing that “evil people should be punished for their crimes” and that they should be hurt too, “so they know how it feels”. However the friendship between Rob and Moon Knight sparked conflict in Rob’s relationship with Jean-Paul. Jean-Paul worried that being in Moon Knight’s life was too dangerous, based on his own injuries and what he had observed happening to MK’s other friends over the years, but Rob argued that he was simply jealous. Jean-Paul’s fears turned out to be justified when Rob was savagely beaten into a coma by enemies of Moon Knight. This prompted Jean-Paul to come out of retirement and join Moon Knight in battle again to take revenge against the attackers. Rob has since
recovered from his injuries.

First Appearance: Moon Knight vol.6 #3 (2007)

© and ® Marvel Comics. All rights reserved.

Ernest Cole

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Cole is a book editor at Queendberry Publishers of London and his most important client is Wilson Taylor, author of the extremely popular Tommy Taylor series of books based on his son, which are in a similar vein to the Harry Potter series. The elder Taylor disappeared at the height of his popularity which is why Cole is utterly surprised the morning when Annie, his secretary, presents him with a manuscript for a new novel, “Tommy Taylor and the Emerald Telescope”.

The next time Cole is seen again is close to the release date of the Taylor book. He and his secretary are airing some heated opinions regarding the book. She accuses him of having no shame in printing the book that they both know from its hackneyed style was not written by Taylor. Cole remains convinced the book is the answer to inject high sales and generate income in light of Amazon’s price setting policies.

Security is very tight the night before book’s public release. Coles is heading unloading of boxes of the volume at a Foley’s bookstore after hours when he places a phone call to his lover Gil. The conversation is brief; Cole simply says he’ll have to stay all night to supervise and some teasing comments between the two men. Shortly after ending the call, an assassin named Pullman, who is working for the mysterious Mr. Callander, confronts Cole and tries to beat some secret information from him. Later, two security guards find him beaten. Cole refuses to have an ambulance called, and insists on going through with the book release. It’s wildly successful due to an event that plays out in front of crowds involving Tommy  Taylor, his father, and Pullman.

Art by Pter Gross. From The Unwritten #15

Cole is first seen in issue 2 of The Unwritten and his sexuality is shown in #15.

© and ® Mike Carey and Peter Gross. Published by Vertigo/ DC. All rights reserved.

Anton Previn

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

While at work Barry Allen receives a phone call from top international women’s designer Anton Previn who’s come to Central City with his latest portfolio. Barry recounts meeting Previn five years before on a trip to Paris and “[they] became fast friends”. Barry stores Previn’s portfolio in a police safe until his show the following day. The two men go for a walk and Previn shares that he wants to meet some American women to get their opinions on his clothing designs. Apparently in the Silver Age DC universe of 1961 Central City is a hot bed of fashion design. Naturally, Iris is Barry’s only choice to introduce to Anton, and she’s simply beside herself with happiness when meeting “The Anton Previn!” Anton is utterly charming, holding out a white-gloved hand to take Iris’ while complimenting her. On the other hand, so to speak, Barry isn’t the least bit jealous at the thought of Iris  and Previn becoming friends — because even Barry knows his friend is gay.

Art by Carmine Infantino

The two of them talk over coffee. Iris doesn’t waste a minute telling Anton that she thinks Barry could be more romantic. In turn, he remarks: “No offense, my dear, but a change in hair style and in make up — just a soupcon of difference” [emphasis in original] and he offers to re-do her look. Iris agrees and for the rest of the story Previn works his homo designer mojo to turn her into a ravishing beauty. Meanwhile Barry, as the Flash, is battling it out with the Top in their first encounter. Anton, smoking a cigarette in a long stemmed holder, shows off the new Iris to Barry who’s too dumbstruck by her new look to pay even the most minor of compliments. Of course, Iris interprets her fiance’s speechlessness as disapproval, and reverts to her former look. Anton looks rather speechless himself with Barry’s reaction. Or should I write “Barree” since this is how writer John Broome spelled it.

In addition to allegedly being the world’s top designer of his day, Previn had the ability to ceate the most florid hand gestures, and would certainly rank right behind Dr. Strange and Spider-man, especially as drawn by Steve Ditko. Ditko’s hand style was a stylistic choice. With Infantino here, I assume he and Broome wanted to convey that Previn is homosexual and bypass the Comics Code Authority. Plus, Infantino drew Previn with a fussy hairstyle, unlike the other men whose hair is worn short in keeping with contemporary looks. If old Allen coworker Patty Spivot can make a comeback, then why not bring Previn back as confidant for Iris?

Previn’s first and only appearance is in Flash #122 (August 1961) and reprinted in the 80 paged giant Flash # 169 and Flash Archives #3.

© and ® DC Comics. All rights reserved.

Aryan Thrust & Colonel Crotch

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

It is the 2011 in the dystopian reality of Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons’ Give Me Liberty. The Aryan Thrust is described as a “militant gay racist group” that has sworn retaliation against America’s President Nissen for the accidental incineration of its headquarters in the Appalachian mountains. Its assassination attempt fails, but the Surgeon General cheers the destruction  as an example of how to cleanse America, and follows up by dispatching his “Health Police” to “disinfect Appalachia.”

The Aryan Thrust vow even greater retaliatory measures and under the command of Colonel Wilhelm Crotch captures the orbiting laser cannon that destroyed the Aryan Thrust stronghold. Its crew members are shown floating dead in space. In response Peace Force soldier Martha Washington is dispatched to retake the weapon base. She gains admittance under the pretext of negotiation and is met by the Colonel and three other Aryan Thrust members. They’re simultaneously high camp and ultra butch in their leather uniforms, displaying their violent philosophy and stupidity (threatening to use a firearms on essentially a space station  in the vacuum of space), and racism when Crotch calls Washington “a darkie”. The situation quickly goes bad when Crotch threatens to kill the government representative sent along with Washington. In turn, she proceeds to wound and slay the quartet, but not before Crotch can start the ignition sequence to destroy the White House. Alerted by the shouting, another group chases after her; one of them fires his weapon, causing a hull breach. The sequence is aborted when Washington accidentally discovers and rescues the mutant telepath who functions as the control system. Instead, the pent up energy destroys the laser cannon after the pair barely escape. Having served the plot, the Aryan Thrust die and that’s that.

The Aryan Thrust and Colonel Crotch appear in Give Me Liberty #2 and the Life & Times of Martha Washington in the 21st Century TPB from Dark Horse. The indicia indicates permission for images must be obtained from Miller & Gibbons. You’ll want to find a copy of the trade at your library or look through one at a bookstore to decide for yourself if their depiction is cringe worthy.

© and ® Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons. All rights reserved.

Pionic Man & Head Dollie

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The Pionic Man and Head Dolli have a connection in that each of them were used by Henry Hewitt, founder of Hewitt Industries, who used his industrial resources in an experiment to recreate Firestorm, thus giving birth to Firehawk. Due to a successful cloning experiment to repair his body, Hewitt went on to create a series of clones that he dubbed DOLLIES, which referred to the successfully cloned “Dolly the sheep”. Working behind the scenes, Hewitt created “accidents” at various nuclear test sites across the world in which he placed his DOLLIES fitted with devices to siphon and contain any released energy for his own purposes.

Dr. Julius Hastur was in charge of one such test at the Large Proton Collider Facility at Lowrance University. Hewitt’s plan went awry when Firestorm, who was touring the college campus in his Jason Rusch identity, stepped in to avert disaster. Though unknown at the time, Hastur was trapped inside the facility during this event, and Firestorm’s transmutation powers inadvertently bombarded Hastur’s body with radiation, turning his mass into pions, short lived, sub-atomic particles. Hastur is disoriented and in extreme pain when he emerges later that night, and quite susceptible to Hewitt’s offer to help with a containment suit in exchange for fighting Firestorm. The hero takes a gamble by turning the containment suit into helium and using a STAR Labs device to hold his pionic form.

The DOLLIES first appear in #23. Four are dispatched to abduct Jason, whom they secure in their surprise attack. In turn, they’re surprised by Lorraine Reilly who turns into Firehawk and engages one clone who distracts her long enough for the others to speed away with Jason, and thus unknowingly causing an explosion since the pair must be within one mile proximity of the other to remain stable. This same clone attained a level of self-awareness (and speech) from the fight with Firehawk, a fact that piques the curiosity of “The Pupil”, a former intellectual thorn in Martin Stein’s side and villain du jour who’s “borrowed” the DOLLIES from the still secretive Hewitt. This particular DOLLI asserts will when he prevents the Pupil from inflicting pain on Gehenna, Jason’s girlfriend, during an attempt led by Firestorm to rescue Stein. He continues to protect her during the fight and disappears when faced by Firestorm.

A phrase tossed out during another fight between the DOLLIES and Firestorm leads Stein to believe there may be a connection with the Pionic Man. After some discussion, Stein builds a new containment suit and with Firestorm and Firehawk on hand, the former scientist is released into it. He rushes forward, unexpectedly hugging Firestorm and thanking him for the imprisonment which led to an intense self-reflection (he had been quite unhappy in his human life). In appreciation, he informs Stein every thing he knows about his unknown benefactor. It’s sufficient intel to lead them to Hewitt Industries, and of course, the obligatory confrontation between Firestorm and crew and Hewitt in his guise as Tokomak.

The last time Pionic Man is seen is in the company of the rogue DOLLI (now calling himself Head Dolli) as the sit at a New York diner discussing the woes of apartment hunting. They’re joined by Firestorm and we learn that Head Dolli approached the Pionic Man during the fight at Hewitt’s lab and persuaded him with the logic that “…one needn’t jump straight into every civil war or crisis that comes along” so the pair left and began “[to make] plans for a quieter, more sedate life.” Firestorm asks them: “Is this a ‘Brokeback Mountain’ thing, or a ‘Felix and Oscar’ thing?” to which Pionic Man exclaims “What a rude question!” Gehenna interrupts the conversation before more can be said. They appear in a few more panels and disappear; the book is canceled with the following issue. Hopefully they found happiness and a great, yet reasonably priced apartment!

Pionic Man appears first in Firestorm #14 (vol 2). Head Dollie first appears (as an anonymous cyborg) in Firestorm #23 (vol 2). During a fight with Firestorm in #16, Pionic Man recounts spending a summer in France with a young undergraduate student named Giselle, who then dumps him. While no longer referring to himself as Hastur, the Pionic Man gives no indication he thinks of himself as genderless, in spite of the Ken doll anatomically correctness of his containment suit. As a clone of a man, it can be presumed he has some genitalia. How or if they express themselves sexually is left to the imagination. While not explicitly stated by either character, I believe inclusion for both is warranted based on my reading.

© and ® DC Comics. All rights reserved.

Piper

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Art by Francis ManapulHartley Rathaway has reappeared as a supporting character in the DCnU, first appearing in Flash #8 (2012). Allusions to his past as Pied Piper, working as a hero, have been made though the full extent of his history including the possibility of having been a Rogue remain unknown at this time. Rathaway is now the conductor of the Central City Symphony and is in a relationship with David Singh, the director of Central City Police Department’s crime lab. Hartley is out and accepts his past as a vigilante while Singh is closeted at work and has a disfavorable opinion of vigilantes, especially Flash. This difference of opinion creates tension when Hartley announces he wants to become Piper to help guard the city while Flash is missing.

See David Singh’s entry.

The following information applies to the previous version of Pied Piper.

Formerly known as the Pied Piper and a member of the Flash’s (Barry Allen) Rogue’s Gallery. Hartley Rathaway was born deaf, but his wealthy parents paid for costly medical procedures to ultimately restore his hearing. When he could finally hear, a whole new world was opened up for him – and he became enamored by music and the science of sonics, much to his parents’ chagrin. Bored by other pursuits, Rathaway put on a ridiculous looking costume and decided to become a criminal – just for fun. Ultimately, he retired from crime, and became a trusted friend of Barry Allen’s successor, Wally West. Rathaway “came out” to the usually conservative West, who has surprisingly been very acceptive to his friend’s sexual orientation. Piper now channels his energies into championing gay rights and aiding Central City’s homeless. He has a current boyfriend named James.  James’ current status in regards to Hartley is something I can’t recall.

Piper was one of a cast of recurring characters in the year long, weekly Countdown (later Countdown to Final Crisis) series. He and Trickster had been implicated in the murder of Bart Allen at the time in which he became the Flash after Wally’s disappearance. Others in the Rogues’ Gallery doubted their avowed return to crime, forcing them to prove their loyalty through extortion and subsequent murder of a rich man through some hypnotically induced order on Piper’s part. Appearances were deceiving as Piper discretely made some special allowance to keep the man alive, and Trickster saw through the ruse.

They became an unlikely and reluctant pair on the lam from the Rogues, police, and superheroes and the situation becomes more literal when they’re cuffed together at the wrist after being captured by Deadshot (who’s working for Checkmate) as part of the effort to send all villains off-world. What follows is what seems to me a poorly executed attempt to put Piper and Trickster in a “bro-mantic” light as they continue their efforts to fight and escape various heroes and villains out to get them. Most of Piper’s part in the story is forgettable, as is the case with other events and characters from both reader and publisher viewpoints.

Of the few notable incidents was the story Piper recounts as his few days of survival on the run in the desert becomes dire. Piper began to lose touch with reality after Deadshot killed Trickster, and he was forced to carry and drag the body along until he finally came to the awful realization he had to sever Trickster’s hand from his dead body in order to survive a little longer. The trauma and stress have gotten to Piper and he acts as if Trickster is still alive, and tells how he first realized he is gay while watching a teenaged Rod Lauren play a character in the 1960s cult sci fi movie “The Crawling Hand“. This segues into what Piper mistakes as a portent of a “light at the end of the tunnel” death experience as a Boom Tube opens in the sky above.

Transported by the Boom Tube, Piper finds himself on Apokolips, always a harrowing experience. This time the danger is much worse as the planet and its people are under attack by Brother Eye. In a nutshell (because I don’t plan to re-read this mess of a storyline) Brother Eye is intent on neutralizing inhabitants to take over. Basically, Piper falls into Desaad’s clutches, which has been the sadist’s plan from the start as he apparently discovered and now reveals to Piper that he holds the Anti-Life Equation. One would’ve preferred an explanation of how Hartley became, according to Desaad, a “rare human vessel for the Anti-Life” rather than the simplistic statement that Piper’s abilities were related to his being said instrument.

In any case, while Darkseid and Solomon, the rogue Monitor, continue their grand game of chess with human and meta human players and Apokolips is burning, Desaad shouts at Hartley to play his flute  as the means to defeat the Omac which is threatening their lives. Desaad is blasted by the Omac, hurtling his body away, while Hartley prepares to die, only to surprisingly be taken prisoner. Piper escapes during an attack initiated by a number of the other main heroes, only to fall again into Desaad’s clutches, who forces him to play his flute and “Let the music flow through [him]! Unleash the Anti-Life Equation…” Piper’s making his last stand though and instead causes Desaad’s apparent death by head explosion. Not backing down, Piper’s next tune seems to drive away Brother Eye and then to hasten or be the sole cause for the explosions wracking Apokolips.

Hartley’s fate is a mystery till Countdown’s finale when he finally resurfaces in an alley way on Earth and he’s quite happy to be greeted by a small pack of rats.

He’s next seen in the 3 part Rogues’ Revenge mini series that sported a “Final Crisis” trade dress. The remaining Rogues have decided to retire in the aftermath of Bart (Impulse/ Kid Flash/ Flash #4) Allen at the hands of the rogues’. This plan is soon aborted when they discover a group of new villains are taking their places with the blessing of villain-du-crisis Libra. While these two groups are playing off each other, Hartley is busy lifting old pal James Jesse’s last will and testament. Jesse was the original trickster and had reformed like Hartely. The will was important for the information it contained about the rogues’ tech, safe houses, family members, etc. — everything Hartley would need to take the Rogues down them down and clear both his and Jesse’s names — written in (wait for it!) invisible ink. Piper’s appearance in #2 is even briefer as he simply observes Inertia (the villain ultimately responsible for Bart’s death) and Zoom, the reverse-Flash training and plotting against the Rogues as well.

Zoom and Inertia (now calling himself Kid Zoom) attack the Rogues for their own reasons and Hartley, who’s been hiding, jumps into the fray and uses his super duper tuning fork to create vibrations to immobilize the villains. He begins to take out his anger physically on them and is in turn surprised by a trident spike through his shoulder, courtesy of Libra who wants to punish the Rogues himself for refusing to join his super criminal network. Piper lies bleeding on the ground while all hell breaks loose between the Rogues, Libra, Zoom and Kid Zoom. The younger Zoom as he races like a crazed berserker seems on the verge of defeating them all until Hartley, using the harmonics of his flute, causes him to stand still abruptly, thus providing a perfect target for a five way killing blow dealt by the Rogues. Captain Cold confronts Hartley by calling him an accessory and threatening to spread this info if Piper doesn’t leave the Rogues alone. Piper’s only response is to turn away his face. Cue exit.

Using his uncanny knowledge of sound, Piper has created an array of sonic weapons, including a melodious flute which could enthrall all save the Piper himself with it’s strange notes. He has assisted the Flash (Wally West) on many occasions with various hearing and sound devices, and other technological wonders.

Piper (AKA Hartley Rathway) first appeared in Flash #106 (volume 1) and is revealed to be gay in Flash #53 (volume 2). After reforming himself, Hartley became a social activist and worked for the FBI though he never gave up his equipment or costume.

© and ® DC Comics. All rights reserved.

Nigel Clowes

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Thanks to the "anonymous" pic contributor!

Contributed by Michael McDermott

Nigel was a member of the covert paramilitary organization called the V-Battalion, assembled at the end of the second World War to quietly deal with threats to world peace. He served under the command of Roger Aubrey, the Mighty Destroyer.

Recently, Aubrey stepped down as head of the V-Battalion and retired in order to deal with his clinical depression, caused in part by his unresolved grief for his lover Brian Falsworth (Union Jack II) who had been killed in a car crash decades earlier. After Roger retired, he and Nigel became romantically involved. Nigel helped Roger to overcome his depression and move forward with his life.

However, they were unable to leave the life of action behind them entirely. When the Thin Man assembled a new team ofInvaders, Roger offered his services to the group on a part-time basis. Nigel and Roger were also present at a gay andlesbian pride festival when it was attacked by Nazi vampires who were members of the Axis Mundi superhuman terrorist organization.

Roger has since returned to his former position as head of the V-Battalion. Whether or not Nigel also returned to his previous post is unknown. Nigel was last seen with Roger attending the funeral for Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch.

Although writer Allan Jacobsen intended Nigel to have been a member of the V-Battalion, that background detail was never actually confirmed on-panel. However, it is implied in Nigel’s conversations with Roger about his work with the Invaders and the V-Battalion, since Roger would not be likely to discuss the workings and memberships of top-secret covert organizations with a civilian.

Creator’s Comments: The intended back story is that Nigel worked with the V-Battalion, and that while working they became good friends–something Roger Aubrey had precious few of. I always assumed he was a tactitian or something like that. He would’ve been one of those background guys who was sitting at a computer console on the bridge of the V-Battalion’s big ship (the Vanguard).

Nigel is an easy-going speak-your-mind type, and outed Roger very early in their dealings. Although the two never shared a physically intimate relationship, they became quite close, as Nigel was the one person Aubrey could truly openly share his feeling with. The relationship was ultimately strained to breaking by Roger’s obsessive quest for justice and inability to come to terms with his personal life.

Frustrated, Nigel eventually retired, and returned to private life as a Professor of Literature in the UK.

Their relationship re-ignited when Roger himself retired, and finally sought out “the one that got away”. Nigel represents Aubrey’s decision to out himself, and finally live the life he always dreamt for himself and his deceased partner Union Jack.

As a member of the V-Battalion, Nigel served as one of the many tactical support technicians on the bridge of the Vanguard,  so Nigel likely has certain tactical and/or technical expertise. It is also possible he has had training for hand-to-hand combat or weapons use, but that is unconfirmed.

Nigel first appeared and is shown as gay in New Invaders #4. See the Destroyer & Union Jack II entry.

© and ® Marvel Comics. All rights reserved.

Black Cat

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Art by Ron Frenz

Contributed by Ronald Byrd

The daughter of infamous cat burglar Walter Hardy, Felicia Hardy decided to follow in his footsteps and trained herself to become an expert combatant and thief, the Black Cat. Early in her career, she became attracted to the super-hero Spider-Man, and she eventually joined him as a lover and a fellow crime-fighter, earning amnesty for her past misdeeds. However, their relationship had several problems; Felicia was more enamored of Spider-Man’s costumed persona than she was of his true identity, Peter Parker, while Spider-Man felt that costumed crime-fighting was too dangerous for a non-superhuman. To compensate, Felicia acquired super-powers from a mysterious source who turned out to be the Kingpin of Crime, one of Spider-Man’s deadliest enemies, a revelation which further complicated matters, as did the revelation that Felicia’s new bad-luck power might eventually kill anyone in her vicinity, including Spider-Man. Felicia intended to end her relationship with Spider-Man to save his life but, unaware of this, Spider-Man himself broke off the relationship due to their personal differences.

Following the breakup, the thrill-seeking Felicia returned to crime but took to donating her ill-gotten gains to others. Meanwhile, Spider-Man underwent a string of misfortunes as a delayed effect of his association with her; sorcerer Doctor Strange cured Spider-Man by altering Felicia’s powers, removing her bad-luck power but giving her additional abilities in return. Felicia renewed her relationship/partnership with Spider-Man on an irregular basis but finally departed for Paris, France; when she returned some time later, she learned that, as Peter Parker, Spider-Man had married another of his long-time girlfriends, Mary Jane Watson. Felicia began dating one of Parker’s friends, Eugene “Flash” Thompson, as a way of ingratiating herself into Parker’s life and eventually wrecking his marriage, but she developed a true affection for Thompson and abandoned her scheme. She was also robbed of her remaining super-powers by a device of the criminal Chameleon, but, undaunted, she began a career as a private investigator, at times finding herself on both sides of the law, as it seems she wanted all along.

By about fourteen years in the future (or on a present-day alternate Earth where time has proceeded differently and everyone is thus some fourteen years older than on Marvel-Earth, accounts vary), Felicia’s detective agency has achieved worldwide success, and it is known that during the intervening years she married Eugene Thompson (currently a coach at Midtown High School) and bore him two children, Gene and Felicity. However, she has also divorced him, apparently because she fell in love with Diana, formerly a contract operative for her agency. Felicity disapproves of the relationship, possibly because she regards Diana as an opportunist out for Felicia’s wealth; it is not known how her son reacted. Felicia apparently maintained the costumed identity of the Black Cat at least until her divorce and gave it up not long after, but no further details of her later career are known; her abandonment of her costumed identity is another sore point with her daughter.

As of the timeframe of “Spider-Girl,” Felicia and Diana have known each other for nearly six years, although it is not known how long their relationship has been a romantic one. Felicia, Diana, and Felicity move from Paris to Forest Hills, a suburb of New York which is also the home of Peter Parker, who in this timeline remains married to Mary Jane Watson and has a daughter, May, who herself has superhuman powers and fights crime as Spider-Girl; Felicity also adopts a costumed identity, the Scarlet Spider, and attempts to convince Spider-Girl to accept her as a crime-fighting partner, thus furthering the connections between the two families.

For a time, the Black Cat possessed two separate sets of super-powers; the treatments given to her by the Kingpin augmented her strength and agility and enabled her to, either consciously or subconsciously, psionically alter probability fields so that those around her experienced bad luck. After Doctor Strange removed the latter power, her abilities mutated further to grant her even greater strength and agility, as well as the ability to form her hands and feet into claws. In the mainstream Marvel universe she lost this second set of abilities some years ago and again became a non-powered human; whether or not she might have regained or retained these powers in the alternate timeline of “Spider-Girl” remains to be seen.

In her prime the Black Cat was, even without super powers, a highly trained athlete, martial artist, and thief; she usually traveled via a grappling hook swing-line which could also serve as a tightrope or a wall-scaling device. Whether or not she has retained these talents in her late thirties/early forties is unclear, although as the head of her detective agency she presumably remains a skilled investigator.

Felicia Hardy/ Black Cat first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #194. Though Felicia’s bi-sexuality has been primarily established in the alternate timeline of Spider-Girl (Spider-Girl #45 & #47), there was a scene in the Spiderman/Black Cat mini in which she said, “It’s been so long since I’ve had a boyfriend … or a girlfriend”. Director of a private investigation firm; formerly cat burglar, adventurer, private investigator. Felicia lives in Forest Hills, New York.

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