X-Men Hellfire Gala Shows How Queer-Friendly Marvel Has Become

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Warning! Spoilers ahead for X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1!

Among the highlights of this year’s Hellfire Gala were the X-Men talking about how Marvel Comics approaches the representation of LGBTQ+ in its universe. Major comic book publishers have come a long way since the fall of the Comics Code Authority, but in the era of corporate comics, open discussion of hot topics is always a difficult dance. Fans of queer X-Men have a lot to rejoice at this week’s X-Men: Hellfire #1 gala, hosted by Jerry Duggan, Chris Anka, Russell Dauterman, Matteo Lolli, C.F. Villa and Corey Petit from VC. One of these details is the frankness with which a certain mutant discusses his sexuality.

There are more superhumans than ever at the second annual Hellfire Gala. Extraordinary mutant fashion designer Jumbo Carnation easily holds all four hands, ensuring that the Krakoa mutants will serve them in the best possible way. Enter Janet Van Dyne, a fashion designer of the Marvel universe who is not a mutant. Generally speaking, it seems that the Wasp coped with dressing most of the invited Avengers, while Jumbo focused more on the mutant maintenance staff. The data page in Hellfire Gala # 1 details the Daily Bugle interview between the heads of fashion houses Carnation and Van Dyne.

Related: Wolverine Takes Center Stage in the iconic cover of the Hellfire Gala

The coworkers talk casually to each other, and at one point Jumbo mentions to Janet that he is a “fire-resistant, four-armed, power spinning top.” Such an explicit reference to Jumbo’s sex life when using language specifically rooted in the LGBTQ+ community gives a funny new detail about Jumbo Carnation. In addition, this dialogue is a vivid reminder of how far Marvel has come in terms of realistic portrayal of queer in its comics. A similar example is the instantly classic phrase “I want this twink to be destroyed!” panel from Chip Zdarski and Anthony Oliveira, Manuel Garcia, Travis Lanham from VC and Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling #1 by Wil Moss.

It is important that queer characters are presented to readers, but reflecting a realistic version of queer culture and language models is another key aspect of the holistic representation of the LGBTQ+ community in the world of comics. Moments like this in Hellfire Gala #1 show that Marvel Comics are interested not only in portraying gay and transgender characters, but also in allowing them to speak and act in a way that resonates with real queer people. Marvel Comics’ television and cinematic counterpart, Marvel Studios, unfortunately still has to catch up before queer representation in the MCU will more closely match the comics.

Many fans are right to say that Marvel Comics still has a lot to do regarding queer representation. However, the current state of Marvel’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community has changed significantly since former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter infamously stated that “there were no homosexuals in Marvel comics.” The giant X-Men carnation telling the Wasp that he’s at the pinnacle of power before the Hellfire Gala is a brief moment, but it encapsulates the arc of Marvel Comics’ quest to better represent LGBTQ+ people in its universe.