Hello again, fellow comic readers!

This week’s new comic Wednesday pick is Marvel Comics’ “Astonishing X-Men #50,”  a book that promises to generate a bit of controversy.

Spoiler alert! If you don’t want to know the “big deal” about this book, stop reading now and skip to the lower part of the post to see the list of books coming out this week.

Marvel Comics’ mutant character Northstar has not often been a headliner. If all you know about the X-Men is what you’ve seen in movies starring Hugh Jackman, then you likely don’t know him at all.

That changes with this week’s “Astonishing X-Men #50” when Northstar takes center stage and prepares to go from one of the first openly gay superheroes in comics to the first married gay hero at Marvel. That’s if his paramour and manager Kyle says yes, of course.

Northstar has had a tumultuous history. He starred in “Alpha Flight,” a long-running and well-remembered series for Marvel in the 80s and 90s, but his star fell not long after he came out as a gay man.

At the time his coming out was a huge development, but since then it has been ignored, played up for positive effect or played almost for laughs, such as a brief period where Northstar was retroactively declared to be an actual fairy. (Seriously, this is a storyline in a comic book you can own.)

“Astonishing X-Men #50” is an easy jumping on point for new readers of the line and has the added bonus of featuring Northstar, an X-Men character that I personally think is great.

He promotes AIDS awareness and mental health, two issues dear to his heart thanks to obstacles faced by his adopted daughter and his sister, respectively.

Earlier this year Archie comics had a same-sex wedding in its books that got a lot of press, but this is the first time a superhero is tying the knot.

I asked Marjorie Liu, the writer of this issue, if the controversy surrounding the Archie marriage figured into the storyline of this book.

“This is a love story and not a political statement,” Liu said. “Gay marriage is legal in New York state, and some of the X-Men who live there just happen to be gay. If they want to get married - well, why not? Not everyone will agree or be happy about it (in our book, and in real life), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tackle those stories with passion and empathy for both sides.”

Conor Kilpatrick of iFanboy.com believes the issue is a perfect fit for Marvel: “The X-Men have been, from the beginning, an allegory for civil rights, so it makes sense that in a time when gay rights is such a front-burner issue in American society that Marvel Comics would face it head-on with their X-Men characters.”

Marvel Comics first rose to prominence and popularity in the 1960s by more accurately and relevantly reflecting the issues of the day in its stories compared to its competition, DC Comics, so it’s no surprise that in 2012 Marvel is taking on the issue of gay marriage.

Axel Alonso, Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics, agrees that this is a natural story for Marvel to tell.

“Marvel Comics are best when they respond to developments in the real world,” he said. “When gay marriage became legal in New York state, it raised a question: Since most of our heroes reside in that state, how would Northstar, the first openly gay character in comics, respond to this development? Would it change his long-term relationship with his partner, Kyle?”

Of course, this weekend at the KAPOW! comic book convention in England, DC Comics co-publisher Dan Didio announced that it would reveal a long-time character to be gay.

Daniel Dean, of Titan Games and Comics in Smyrna, Georgia, says comic readers should think twice before they get furious about the storyline in this book.

“Obviously the big hook is Northstar’s potential status as Marvel’s first married gay superhero. But for me this is just a major event in the story of a character I think is pretty neat,” Dean said.

It was about time Marvel revisited the issue of Northstar’s sexuality. The issue in which he came out was a big deal but the subject was pretty well glossed over immediately thereafter. For a long while it was as if nothing had happened.

“You had camps of fans that were pretty ticked about both; that is, there were people upset that Marvel had a gay mutant, but there were a ton of people who were more upset that apart from a big pronouncement he wasn’t allowed to be gay in the comics,” Dean said.

Despite any disagreement in the X-Men fandom, “the fact that Marvel is making this happen now matters, and I think we all like to read stories which matter whether we agree with them or not,” he said.

There was a time in comics where some horrible disaster that threatened lives was preferable to a “gay” subplot. Now most comic fans can name at least a good half dozen or more gay characters without even thinking about it. More importantly, these characters usually have compelling stories and reasons to exist apart from being “the gay one,”  the same stigma that followed the token black member of many comics in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

Comic fans have seen this kind of relationship blossom before, in Marvel’s Wiccan and Hulkling, for example. This, however, represents a whole new line in the sand for Marvel, and it’s an accomplishment unto itself. It’s indicative of a completely different way of thinking. That’s plenty controversial to some people, but perfectly in line with the message of books like the X-Men.

I hope things work out for the character, but, this being comics, few things work out like the heroes hope in the long run. Either way, I’ll be reading.

So, until next week, go forth and read, my people. And the reading will be good!

Is there a comic out there that you really love? Let us know in the comments. We’re always looking for tips on good comics!

Here are some of the comics scheduled to hit the shelves on May 23, 2012. Your local retailer will probably have these and others, so make sure to check with them for more details.


Amazing Spider-Man #686 (Gabriele Dell’Otto Variant Cover), AR

Amazing Spider-Man #686 (Stefano Caselli Regular Cover), $3.99

Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 Behind The Mask SC (Young Readers Novel), $6.99

Astonishing X-Men #50 (Dustin Weaver Regular Cover), $3.99

Astonishing X-Men #50 (John Cassaday Sketch Variant Cover), AR

Astonishing X-Men #50 (John Cassaday Variant Cover), AR

Astonishing X-Men Wedding Invitation Postcard (Promotional Item), AR

Avengers The Many Faces Of Henry Pym TP, $19.99

Captain America #12, $3.99

Captain America And Hawkeye #631, $2.99

Daken Dark Wolverine No More Heroes HC (Premiere Edition), $19.99

Deadpool #55, $2.99

Deadpool MAX Involuntary Armageddon TP, $19.99

Dorothy And The Wizard In Oz #7 (Of 8), $3.99

Fantastic Four #606, $2.99

Hulk #52, $2.99

Hulk Smash Avengers #4 (Of 5), $2.99

Hulk Smash Avengers Collectible Postcard #4 (Promotional Item), AR

Journey Into Mystery #638, $2.99

Marvel Masterworks Atlas Era Journey Into Mystery Volume 4 HC, $64.99

Marvel Masterworks Atlas Era Journey Into Mystery Volume 4 HC (Direct Market Variant Edition Volume 180), $64.99

Marvel Masterworks The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 7 TP, $24.99

Marvel Masterworks The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 7 TP (Direct Market Variant Edition Volume 44), $24.99

Marvel Universe Spider-Man Amazing Fantasy Digest TP, $9.99

Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man #2, $2.99

Marvel Zombies Destroy #2 (Of 5), $3.99

Mighty Thor #14, $3.99

Mighty Thor By Matt Fraction Volume 1 TP, $19.99

Mighty Thor By Matt Fraction Volume 2 HC (Premiere Edition), $24.99

Secret Avengers #27, $3.99

Strikeforce Morituri Volume 3 TP, $34.99

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Death Of Spider-Man Fallout TP, $19.99

Ultimate Comics X-Men #12, $3.99

Uncanny X-Force Otherworld HC (Premiere Edition), $24.99

Uncanny X-Force Volume 3 The Dark Angel Saga Book 1 TP, $19.99

Venom Circle Of Four HC (Premiere Edition), $29.99

Wolverine And The X-Men #9 (Chris Bachalo 2nd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99

Digital Same Day As Print

Amazing Spider-Man #686

Astonishing X-Men #50

Captain America #12

Captain America And Bucky #631

Deadpool #55

Dorothy And The Wizard Of Oz #7

Fantastic Four #606

Hulk #52

Hulk Smash Avengers #4

Marvel Zombies Destroy #2

Mighty Thor #14

Secret Avengers #27


Absolute Batman Dark Victory, $99.99

All-Star Western #9 (Night Of The Owls), $3.99

Aquaman #9 (Ivan Reis & Joe Prado Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Aquaman #9 (Ivan Reis & Joe Prado Regular Cover), $2.99

Batman Incorporated #1 (Chris Burnham Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Batman Incorporated #1 (Chris Burnham Regular Cover), $2.99

Batman Incorporated #1 (Combo Pack Edition), $3.99

Batman Incorporated #1 (Frank Quitely Variant Cover), AR

Batman Knightfall Volume 2 Knightquest TP (New Edition), $29.99

Batman The Dark Knight #9 (Night Of The Owls)(David Finch & Richard Friend Regular Cover), $2.99

Batman The Dark Knight #9 (Night Of The Owls)(David Finch & Richard Friend Variant Cover), AR

Dominique Laveau Voodoo Child #3, $2.99

Fables #117, $2.99

Flash #9 (Francis Manapul Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Flash #9 (Francis Manapul Regular Cover), $2.99

Flash #9 (Tony S. Daniel Variant Cover), AR

Fury Of Firestorm The Nuclear Men #9, $2.99

Green Lantern New Guardians #9 (Tyler Kirkham & Batt Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Green Lantern New Guardians #9 (Tyler Kirkham & Batt Regular Cover), $2.99

I Vampire #9, $2.99

Justice League Dark #9, $2.99

MAD Archives Volume 3 HC, $59.99

MAD Vinyl Spy Vs Spy 2-Pack, $49.99

Savage Hawkman #9, $2.99

Showcase Presents Sea Devils Volume 1 TP, $19.99

Stormwatch Volume 1 The Dark Side TP, $14.99

Superman #9 (Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert Regular Cover), $2.99

Superman #9 (Ivan Reis Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Teen Titans #9 (Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund Black & White Variant Cover)(The Culling), AR

Teen Titans #9 (Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund Regular Cover)(The Culling), $2.99

Unwritten #37, $2.99

Voodoo #9, $2.99

Digital Same Day As Print

All Star Western #9

Aquaman #9

Batman Incorporated #1

Batman: The Dark Knight #9

Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #3

Fables #117

Flash #9

Green Lantern: New Guardians #9

I, Vampire #9

Justice League Dark #9

Superman #9

Teen Titans #9

The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #9

The Savage Hawkman #9

The Unwritten #37

Voodoo #9

Superman Beyond #3

DC Comics Digital Sneak Peeks 5/23/12 #1


Cobra #13 (Cover A Antonio Fuso), $3.99

Cobra #13 (Cover B Antonio Fuso), $3.99

Cobra #13 (David Williams Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Cobra #13 (David Williams Variant Cover), AR

Comic Book History Of Comics TP, $21.99

G.I. JOE A Real American Hero Volume 4 TP, $19.99

Godzilla #1 (Art Adams Gatefold Variant Cover), AR

Godzilla #1 (Cover A Art Adams), $3.99

Godzilla #1 (Cover B Tony Harris), $3.99

Godzilla #1 (Ryan Kelly Movie Tribute Variant Cover), AR

Hero Comics 2012 (Cover A J. Scott Campbell), $3.99

Joe Hill’s The Cape HC, $24.99

Magic The Gathering #4 (Of 4)(Karl Kopinski Regular Cover), $3.99

Magic The Gathering #4 (Of 4)(Tyler Walpole Variant Cover), AR

Smoke And Mirrors #3 (Of 5)(Cover A Ryan Browne), $3.99

Smoke And Mirrors #3 (Of 5)(Cover B Francesco Francavilla), $3.99

Smoke And Mirrors #3 (Of 5)(Ryan Browne Sketch Variant Cover), AR

Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #5 (Cover A Alex Milne), $3.99

Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #5 (Cover B Nick Roche), $3.99

Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #5 (Marcelo Matere Variant Cover), AR

True Blood #1 (Cover A Tim Bradstreet), $3.99

True Blood #1 (Cover B Photo), $3.99

True Blood #1 (Tim Bradstreet Sketch Variant Cover), AR


27 Volume 2 Second Set TP, $12.99

Artifacts Origins First Born TP, $19.99

Chew #26, $2.99

Elephantmen #39, $3.99

Foot Soldiers Volume 1 TP, $19.99

Haunt Volume 3 TP, $14.99

Near Death #8, $2.99

Netherworld TP, $19.99

No Place Like Home #4, $2.99

Prophet #25, $2.99

Rebel Blood #3 (Of 4), $3.50

Witchblade #156 (Cover A John Tyler Christopher), $2.99

Witchblade #156 (Cover B Diego Bernard & Fred Benes), $2.99

Xenoholics Volume 1 TP, $14.99

Youngblood #71 (Cover A Rob Liefeld), $2.99

Youngblood #71 (Cover B Ryan Ottley), $2.99

Youngblood #71 (Cover C Chris Giarusso), AR

Digital Same Day As Print

27 (Twenty Seven) Vol.2 Collected Edition

Artifacts Origins First Born Collected Edition

Chew #26

Elephantmen #39

Foot Soldiers Vol.1 Collected Edition

Haunt Vol. 3 Collected Edition

Magdalena #12

Near Death #8

Netherworld Collected Edition

No Place Like Home #4

Prophet #25

Rebel Blood #3 (Of 4)

Xenoholics Vol.1 Collected Edition

Youngblood #71


Adventures Into The Unknown Archives Volume 1 HC, $49.99

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 Volume 1 The Long Way Home HC, $29.99

Dark Horse Presents #12 (Dean Motter Variant Cover), AR

Dark Horse Presents #12 (Sam Kieth Regular Cover), $7.99

Doctor Solar Man Of The Atom Volume 2 Revelation Solar Rise TP, $15.99

Guild Fawkes #1 (One Shot)(Emma Rios Variant Cover), AR

Guild Fawkes #1 (One Shot)(Paul Duffield Regular Cover), $3.50

Incredible Adventures Of Dog Mendonça And Pizza Boy TP, $12.99

Mind MGNT #1 (Gilbert Hernandez Variant Cover), AR

Mind MGNT #1 (Matt Kindt Regular Cover), $3.99

Orchid #7, $3.50

Ragemoor #3, $3.50

Resident Alien #1, $3.50

Space Family Robinson Archives Volume 4 HC, $49.99

Star Wars Darth Vader And The Ghost Prison #1 (Of 5)(Dave Wilkins Regular Cover), $3.50

Star Wars Darth Vader And The Ghost Prison #1 (Of 5)(Tsuneo Sanda Variant Cover), AR

Dynamite Entertainment

Green Hornet #25 (Brian Denham Regular Cover), $3.99

Green Hornet #25 (Jonathan Lau Regular Cover), $3.99

Green Hornet #25 (Phil Hester Regular Cover), $3.99

Kevin Smith’s The Bionic Man #9 (Alex Ross Regular Cover), $3.99

Kevin Smith’s The Bionic Man #9 (Alex Ross Virgin Variant Cover), AR

Kevin Smith’s The Bionic Man #9 (Jonathan Lau Variant Cover), AR

Lord Of The Jungle Annual #1, $4.99

Queen Sonja Volume 3 Coming Of Age TP, $19.99

Robert Jordan’s The Wheel Of Time The Eye Of The World #25, $3.99

Vampirella #17 (Ale Garza Regular Cover), $3.99

Vampirella #17 (Fabiano Neves Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Vampirella #17 (Fabiano Neves Regular Cover), $3.99

Vampirella #17 (Lucio Parillo Regular Cover), $3.99