The following feature appears in the May 2017 issue of NYLON.
If you think the entertainment industry fails at diverse representation in 2017, you should have seen the options back when I was a tween in ’96. For context, the internet still came on a CD in the mail and Buffy the Vampire Slayer didn’t exist as a television series yet. Daria was still a year away. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the media of my generation, but it often didn’t feel like it was “for” me. Thankfully, my parents were constantly introducing me to affirming resources, the most profound of which have always been sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books. I was exposed to feminists and activists like Ororo Munroe (aka Storm) of X-Men, Sarah and Julie of The Maxx, Huey of The Boondocks, and the portrayal of minor characters coming out as gay or trans in several DC titles—The Flash (vol. 2, #53) being one of the more notable examples, and a story arc in Green Lantern being another. The world of indie comics was an even more bountiful landscape of queer people, misfits, and inhabitants of different universes, all of whom felt familiar to me.
After the election of our 45th president I was taken aback. While most people took to the internet, the news, or Netflix to work out their feelings, I went to the comic shop. There, I again found waiting for me the stories of badass women, LGBTQ heroes, marginalized characters, and fictional worlds with troubles much like our own. These days, major publishing houses and indie presses alike have been giving me solace anew between the covers of comic books and graphic novels. Here we shine a light on a few exciting upcoming titles that offer a wealth of empowerment.
Harbinger Renegade #5
Valiant Comics (Available July 12)
If you’re interested in a piece of comic-book history, Harbinger Renegade is worth a read. For the uninitiated: In 1992, Valiant comics began publishing a series titled Harbinger, which chronicles the experiences of a group of psionic superhumans known as Harbingers, or Psiots. The world’s most powerful Psiot, Toyo Harada, was recruiting and training other Psiots, until Peter Stanchek came along with the ability to awaken the latent powers of fellow Psiots, a process otherwise dangerous and often fatal. Stanchek formed a group of young Harbingers, called the Renegades, whose mission was to overthrow Harada. Since its inception the series has seen many incarnations, and its most recent reboot finds the team headed by Renegade member Kris Hathaway, who is to date the only LGBTQ character in comics to lead a marquee super-team on par with the Justice League or Avengers. Harbinger Renegade #5 sees Kris struggling to keep the team safe as they are hunted by a group of government-sanctioned mercenaries that have labeled the Renegades as weapons of mass destruction. You still have time to get caught up on the first four issues of the series before the fifth releases, and you’ll be glad you did.