In issue #25 of Harley Quinn's newest, ongoing solo comic series, she shares her first kiss with Poison Ivy.
— Autostraddle (@autostraddle) August 16, 2017
Up until this point, we've only seen Harley and Ivy kiss in alternate universe comics, like DC Bombshells and Injustice: Gods Among Us. This kiss is a big deal, because it helps usher in more opportunities for queer narratives and queer representation in the main DC universe.
But besides Harley and Ivy, there are currently only a handful of queer characters in the DC Rebirth universe: Batwoman, Catwoman, Wonder Woman, The Ray, Aqualad (Jackson Hyde), Midnighter, Apollo, and John Constantine. Things could definitely be better, especially when you consider that there are no trans or non-binary characters and no queer women of color.
Although there are comics outside of the Rebirth universe that have queer representation, they aren't promoted as much unless they feature well-known characters. One such comic, DC Bombshells, has several queer women who play major roles in fighting villains involved in World World II.
That begs the question: why does the queerness of a lot of LGBT DC characters only get explored and mentioned in alternate universes?
In comics, a main universe is the official world where events in a series take place, while an alternate universe is any universe that isn’t the official world. With the DC Rebirth universe, the DC universe has been rebooted by combining the main universe—known as "the New 52"—with an alternate universe known as the "pre-Flashpoint" universe.
Since the main universe is considered the most official, anything that happens outside of that can be written off by readers and critics as invalid. This affects things such as the queerness of certain characters and relationships. In the case of Harley and Ivy, their relationship is now considered official because they’ve kissed in the main universe of DC Rebirth.
But it's ridiculous that a lot of other queer characters would need an entire alternate universe just to kiss, state their attractions, or become major players. If popular queer characters like Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy can be queer in the main universe, then other characters should be given the chance to do the same. Although it might seem like a new idea to some, it is possible to have more than one or two queer characters in a comic.
There are still queer characters that are relevant enough to be in the Rebirth universe. One character is Alysia Yeoh, who married her girlfriend in DC Comics' first transgender wedding. In an issue of Batgirl, it was also hinted that Alysia Yeoh might someday become a masked vigilante. If DC could make her a new superhero in a new Batgirl comic, it could pave the way for great things.
Other comic characters that should be in the Rebirth universe include Anissa Pierce and Grace Choi. Anissa Pierce is the daughter of Black Lightning, one of DC's first Black superheroes. Anissa Pierce takes on the codename Thunder and becomes part of Batman's team, The Outsiders. While in Outsiders, she meets the half-Amazonian warrior Grace Choi, and ends up dating her.
Given that Black Lightning will be getting a television series and a new comic series, it is the perfect time to reintroduce Anissa in DC Rebirth. Meanwhile, Grace Choi could be featured in a new Wonder Woman Rebirth comic, especially since she has worked alongside Wonder Woman before. By appearing on the page in new Rebirth comics, queer characters have a chance to also appear on-screen.
Outside of DC Comics, there are independent publishers and creators providing great queer representation. One publisher, Beyond Press, has published comic anthologies with work by queer and QPOC comic creators. Another publisher, Hiveworks, features queer comics in a variety of sci-fi and fantasy settings.
Although DC Comics has a ton of animated films, television series, and live-action films, they have yet to have a queer superhero character on-screen. If Harley and Ivy can kiss in the comics, then they should kiss in the upcoming Gotham City Sirens film while flirting with Catwoman. If Wonder Woman can have female lovers in the comics, then there should be queer Amazons and a female love interest in the Wonder Woman movie sequel and the Justice League film.
When it comes to queer representation, DC has had its share of hits and misses, but they also have the opportunity to be even better. By bringing timely queer characters into the Rebirth universe, allowing them to be queer, and giving them prominent roles, DC can show that queer heroes can save the world while loving who they want and being who they want.