'Batgirl' Just Threw The First Transgender Wedding In Mainstream Comics History
Today (October 28), the latest issue of DC Comics' "Batgirl" is making history in the sweetest way possible: with a wedding!
Batgirl herself isn't getting married in Issue #45, though; she's merely a part of the bridal party. Instead today's nuptials are all about Alysia Yeoh, Barbara Gordon's best friend and former roommate -- and an openly transgender woman.
When Alysia first came out to Babs in 2013, she was widely heralded as the first civilian transgender character in a mainstream superhero comic series (although not the first transgender character ever, as then-writer Gail Simone pointed out). She first began dating her activist friend Jo in 2014 just before the new "Batgirl" creative team first took over the book, and today the two lovebirds are officially tying the knot.
"This was something we talked about when we took the book over and we didn’t know if we were ever going to get a chance to play it out, because we had so much heavy lifting to do in our first arc that there wasn’t room to play up this plot," Brenden Fletcher, who co-writes the comic with Cameron Stewart, told MTV News over the phone. "And we didn’t know that we were going to be successful at all and get to do any more than six issues.
"So thankfully we’ve gotten to continue working on the series, and we’ve been able to do these things that we’ve always wanted to do. One of them was the wedding. One of them was taking [Batgirl's friend and techie crimefighting partner] Frankie to the next level, and one of them was just allowing Babs to have regular Batgirl adventures without all of the looming darkness of Gotham City crushing down on her."
This isn't the first time a Batfamily comic has made headlines for a lesbian wedding -- although last time, it was for the cancellation of one. In 2013, "Batwoman" writers J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackmore publicly claimed that they left the comic because they were not allowed to marry Batwoman Kate Kane to her fiancée Maggie Sawyer; DC attempted to counter the negative publicity by saying the decision had more to do with a company-wide policy against superhero marriages, saying "heroes shouldn't have happy personal lives," which only frustrated fans more.
Recently, however, the comic publisher has made a more serious effort to diversify their line-up of books both on and off the page, which has slowly led to more LGBT representation. "Midnighter," who was previously married to a man back in 2002, is now the first gay superhero with his own solo-led comic; both Constantine and Catwoman are canonically bisexual in their current respective series; and Wonder Woman just officiated a wedding between two women earlier this summer in an issue of "Sensation Comics."
And while Batwoman's solo comic recently ended, she's currently breaking hearts in "DC Comics: Bombshells," the alternate universe comic where she's back together with her sweetheart Maggie and fighting crime in the '40s.
But none of that factored into the "Batgirl" creative team's decision to get Alysia hitched -- instead they focused on what made sense for Alysia.
"We’re just looking at what the best story is for the characters and just trying to push forward with that," Fletcher noted, saying that there was never any pushback from the DC Comics higher-ups in creating this arc. "We just have to try to do what it is we want to do and in our case, Editorial has been so, so, so supportive. It’s a fantastic experience."
And of course, in addition to being important from a representational aspect, the wedding -- and the entire issue, in which Barbara has to deal with an old flame coming back in her life -- is absolutely adorable, right down to Alysia's gorgeous dress.
"I knew I wanted [the dress] to be really classy and beautiful and classic and, you know, just like Alysia," artist Babs Tarr admitted, revealing that Alysia's "something old" is the traditional Chinese hair comb in her hair. "She has this like kind of big sister personality to Babs... she kind of dresses older, like a really Madewell kind of flavor, so I kind of wanted to give her something really traditional and beautiful and elegant."
"For visual interest I didn't want to have both the the girls in wedding dresses, and I think Jo's personality fits a suit," she added. "I just thought -- it’s cute. I did it 'cuz it’s cute!"
"That is the Babs Tarr philosophy," Fletcher joked. And yeah, it definitely works.
For the next few issues Alysia and Jo will be on their honeymoon but they will return to the comic, Fletcher promises, in a "massive status quo" shift that'll lead up to Batgirl's 50th issue.
"Things will have changed in Barbra Gordon’s life and of course she’ll want to turn to one of her best friends, and that may usher in a new role for Alysia in the book," Fletcher said. "It’s all a grand plan. Everything we’ve been doing so far leads up to this big secret thing we’re doing in issue #50 and I hope everybody’s going to like it."