For decades, there were very few trans characters in superhero comics. What there were, existed via magic, shape-shifting or other fantasy tropes. Until a couple of years ago, you could count them on the fingers of one hand. Not including the thumb.
In recent years that’s changed. You can now count them on the fingers of two hands, with thumbs included. That’s still about it though.
One trait that has been identified by trans critics is that such characters, usually trans women, are more commonly presented as “passing” as a cisgender woman. That there is an element of surprise for the reader, that the character is indeed trans, from Batgirl to Saga. That a greater diversity of body shapes for trans women hasn’t been reflected in the characters currently portrayed.
That is something that No World, the superhero comic from Aspen that takes a number of their characters and teams them up, introducing new characters along the way, is trying to address, with its new character Thicke, introduced in No World #2 out this week, from the opening splash page.
A very much in-your-face character, one who takes no nonsense and dares you to challenge her.
Thicke is an ex-NFL player, turned tech company mogul, which means that not only does she have to deal with inter-company espionage and assassination attempts…
… in the most blatant ways possible…
…she also has to deal with her own company coming to terms with who she is. Something she has no trouble with whatsoever.
…even if everyone else takes a little longer to get up to speed.
What her role in the story will be is unclear. But the focus of a tech company with a target on her head, and handy with heavy armaments, amidst a web of conspiracies, action and thriller looks like she’ll be stepping up to the superheroic plate pretty damn soon.
Another common criticism made is that many trans characters are handled by cisgender people who don’t see the issues in hand clearly, and while this may be another example of this, there seems to be a serious attempt to tackle previous criticism. And writer Scott Lobdell has received advice and comment from trans people when writing this comic.
With everyone celebrating WildStorm’s 25th anniversary, it’s worth noting that the team title from Aspen, one of the studios that out of the Homage/Top Cow/WildStorm axis, that most captures that flavour of The Authority, WildCATS and DV8 at their best.
And that Scott Lobdell is handling that flavour better than he did in the nineties. Also that the man who gave Marvel their first out gay superhero is, with Jordan Gunderson, taking advantage of the opportunity to continue to diversify the character types on the comic book page.