DC Pride 2022 contained a surprising Legion of Super-Heroes milestone for one of its members
Today, we look at how DC Pride 2022 contained a major Legion of Super-Heroes milestone within its pages.
This is “Provide Some Answers,” which is a feature where long unresolved plot points are eventually resolved.
This one is a bit tricky, since by “unresolved,” I really just mean “unconfirmed,” but whatever, you’ll see what I mean and I think it belongs in this feature as much as it belongs in any other feature.
The Legion of Super-Heroes has an absolutely fascinating history when it comes to LGTBQ issues. You see, the Legion has one of the most organized fandoms in the entire world of comics and back in the day, the Legion fandom had some strong opinions about the sexualities of some of the Legionnaires, primarily the belief that Element Lad was gay, a sentiment initially based on him saying he was out of his element with girls in Adventure Comics #326 (by Jerry Siegel and John Forte), but longtime Legion writer, Jim Shooter, also noted that he felt that Element Lad not moving to repopulate his home planet (after everyone on the planet was murdered) was also a sign that he was gay.
Paul Levitz, though, introduced Shvaughn Erin, a female Science Police officer as a love interest for Element Lad. Years later, in Legion of Super-Heroes #31 (by Keith Giffen, Tom and Mary Bierbaum, Colleen Doran and Al Gordon), it turned out that Shvaughn Erin was actually SEAN Erin and had been using a special drug to become Shvaughn to woo Element Lad, but Element Lad made it clear that that wouldn’t have been necessary…
That scene is notable for being the closest a Legionnaire ever came to actually explicitly saying that they were anything but straight.
I did a whole long post on this topic a few years back, but to recap briefly, in the 1980s, after both Shrinking Violet (Salu Digby) and Lightning Lass (Ayla Ranzz) got out of bad relationships, Legion of Super-Heroes writer Paul Levitz began to write the two as sharing a close friendship that appeared like it might have undertones of a romantic relationship. It was never confirmed. In the follow-up series (set five years after the end of the previous volume), Keith Giffen, Tom and Mary Bierbaum and Al Gordon tried to make it MORE explicit, but it was not really explicit at all.
Legion of Super-Heroes #1 saw Shrinking Violet dishonorably discharged from her planet’s military due to her unwillingness to stop complaining about some wartime atrocities that they committed in their war with Cosmic Boy’s planet. She returns to Ayla and their letters certainly suggest a romantic relationship…
As does their time together on Ayla’s home planet of Winath…
Eventually, they help re-form the Legion (and Vi and Cosmic Boy work out their differences from the war). They’re clearly close during all of this time, but it is still subtext and innuendo.
Perhaps the most explicit scene that we would ever get with the two characters occurred in Legion of Super-Heroes #39, an issue after the Earth has been destroyed…
But even here, while they were written like a couple who had been together for a long time, but it was fascinating to see how the era still led to them keeping it awfully vague.
It was never explicitly confirmed that they were together.
In 2007’s Justice League of America #9 (by Brad Meltzer, Ed Benes and Alex Sinclair), the Justice League and Justice Society team-up for a storyline involving members of the Legion of Super-Heroes trapped in the present day, with their original lives initially forgotten before they then remembered that they all volunteered for a mission to bring the Flash back to life.
In any event, we see before the mission kicked in that Dawnstar had been living with a woman on Thanagar…
It is HEAVILY implied that they were in a romantic relationship when Dawnstar left her to complete her mission (Dawnstar was most famously paired with Wildfire in the Legion, romantically). Still, once again, no Legionnaire had ever been confirmed as anything but straight. That really just speaks to how poor the LGTBQ representation was in comics in the old days, that Salu and Ayla’s relationship was a HUGE step forward and yet they never even got confirmed as BEING in a romantic relationship in the comics! That’s how bad things were, “implied” was better by far than nothing.
Well, in last week’s DC Pride 2022, Devin Grayson wanted to feature a few LGBTQ DC characters who had not been spotlighted in 2021, so she asked Jude Deluca for suggestions and Jude gave a few examples (we’ll be looking at a couple of the other examples later, including Brainiac 5, whose demisexuality is important, as well, of course) and one of them was Dawnstar, and so in Grayson’s story in DC Pride 2022 (art, colors and letters by Nick Robles, Triona Tree Farrell and Aditya Bidikar), we see Dawnstar at the Pride parade where she is finally offically confirmed as being bisexual in a canon comic book…
It’s a minor bit, but it is still an excellent moment for Legion of Super-Heroes fandom to finally have a bisexual Legionnaire made part of DC’s official canon.
Thanks to Devin and Jude for having this moment happen!
If anyone has a suggestion for a comic book plot that got resolved after a few years (I tend to use two years as the minimum, as otherwise, you’re probably just in the middle of the actual initial reveal of the storyline, ya know? But I’ll allow exceptions where a new writer takes over a storyline and has to resolve the previous writer’s unresolved plots), drop me a line at email@example.com!
CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over fifteen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed).
He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo.
He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed and other pop culture features at Pop Culture References.
Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at firstname.lastname@example.org!