The nominations for the 2018 GLAAD awards were recently announced, but something is off about their comic book category. In the nominations for "Outstanding Comic Book," there are three Marvel Comic book titles, including America, Iceman, and Black Panther: World of Wakanda. Despite the outstanding merit that got these queer comic books nominated, Marvel Comics has already canceled two of these titles.
Unfortunately, this is not Marvel's first misstep when it comes to their queer comic book content—but it's time for them to start doing better.
While both Iceman and World of Wakanda were given the axe last year, it has yet to be officially confirmed that America has been cancelled. However, it has been widely speculated that America will be canceled because the comic hasn't been scheduled for future publication. Although five or six issues of America, World of Wakanda, and Iceman have been collected together, readers who want more than one volume of each series will be disappointed.
Marvel's recent decisions to cancel comic books led by queer heroes is the latest in a long line of poor treatment of their queer characters. In 2016, Marvel canceled the series Angela: Queen of Hel, which featured the adventures an Asgardian, lesbian warrior named Angela and her Black, trans magician girlfriend Sera. Prior to doing so, Marvel stated that they didn't want to put a label to Angela and Sera's queerness despite the fact their romantic relationship was confirmed in the comic books.
Meanwhile, Marvel's other queer characters rarely get the attention or the stories they deserve. In Marvel's comic book history, there have been queer characters that have been either written out of storylines, faded into obscurity, or have had their queerness totally ignored.
The most egregious example of this is the character Loki, who is canonically gender fluid and pansexual. Recent Marvel comics such as Vote Loki and Doctor Strange have reverted Loki into a straight, cisgender evil trickster god, throwing away a fantastic redemption arc that had developed throughout the comic series Journey Into Mystery, Young Avengers, and Agent of Asgard.
Besides having sketchy queer representation on the page, Marvel's Cinematic Universe has also proven to be lackluster in terms of LGBTQ characters. Marvel currently has two confirmed queer characters in their extended universe: Karolina Dean and Joey Gutierrez. (Karolina Dean is from Marvel's newest online television series Runaways and Joey Gutierrez was a character on the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) The MCU version of Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok could count, but while she was confirmed as bisexual by actress Tessa Thompson, her queerness was actually cut from the final film.
It is all too easy to pin the blame for Marvel's recent cancellations and lack of queer representation on their queer readers. However, doing so disregards the fact that not everyone is aware that these books exist and not everyone can (or wants) to buy comic books the same way. If Marvel wants to keep the queer readers they still have, then they need to hire more queer creatives to create and distribute their queer characters and get in touch with queer readers.
Contrary to what some might think, queer comic book creators have always existed and can be hired if you know where to find them. In fact, the website Queer Cartoonists is a database of queer comic creators that you can search based on how they identify, where they live, and what comic book roles they have experience in.
Some notable queer indie comic book creators have included Taneka Stotts, Chelsey Furedi, and E.H. Macmillan. Through their works, they have created entertaining comics with queer characters that tell fresh and relatable stories.
Marvel canceling their GLAAD-nominated queer comics shows how queer comic book characters, creators, and readers are unappreciated. If Marvel Comics truly aims to reflect the world around them, then Marvel needs to hire queer people that share that vision and know what queer readers want. It is 2018 and queer superheroes and queer readers deserve so much better.