3 min

Partners in crime

Unmasking villainous gay relationships in comic books

Saber giving Cannon a back rub.

In recent years, the comic-book world has become a much more gay-friendly environment. Northstar had a gay wedding, Green Lantern has been relaunched as a homosexual, and Batwoman’s recently been trying very hard to marry her girlfriend.

LGBT characters have been popping up all over — and not all of these characters are heroes. In fact, there are several queer evildoers within the illustrated world. Interestingly, many of these villains have significant others who stand by their sides.

Here are three villainous couples that take the term “partners in crime” to a whole new level.

Mystique and Destiny

Perhaps one of the better-known villains on the list, master shape-shifter Mystique, also known as Raven Darkhölme, is a bisexual mutant who led the X-Men’s adversary group the Brotherhood of Mutants.

Mystique governed the Brotherhood with her partner Destiny, a blind mutant with the ability to predict the future. It is unknown how long the couple has been together, but it has been suggested their relationship extends to at least the 1930s.

In addition to adopting and raising a daughter, Rogue, the pair were set to have a biological child together, Nightcrawler. Mystique would have used her power of transformation to become male for conception purposes. At the time, however, Marvel’s policy prohibited the portrayal of openly gay characters, and it scrapped the plotline.

The folks behind Marvel today are slightly more liberal, confirming the pair is a couple on the characters’ profiles on Marvel’s website.

Cannon and Saber

DC hero Vigilante has to contend with villains Henry Cannon and Marschall Saber, an expert pair of assassins. Ironically named, Cannon was a blade specialist, while Saber was an expert marksman. Whether this was a subtle way for writers to say the duo handled each other’s equipment has yet to be seen.

The pair first appeared in 1985, when they schemed to take control of two rival mobs by killing the head of each organization to create a larger, united mob.  

In later issues, the duo set out to assassinate Vigilante. The battle left Saber critically injured, and Cannon opted to forgo the fight, escaping to tend to his partner’s health.  There’s also a sexy issue in which they give each other back rubs while in their underwear.

On the pair’s sexuality, Vigilante editor Mike Gold confirmed the relationship: "Yes. Saber and Cannon were indeed gay. Does it make a difference? No."

Scandal Savage and Knockout . . . and a stripper

The daughter of villain Vandal Savage, Scandal Savage, was raised to be expert in blade mastery. She also possesses the ability to heal herself when injured.

She joins Lex Luthor’s organization, The Secret Six, where she meets Knockout, a villainess with superhuman strength. The two quickly fall for each other and become lovers.

However, Savage’s father, wanting an heir, sends an assassin to kill Knockout, hoping to hook up his daughter with a man. The assassin fails and tells Scandal of her father’s involvement.

Scandal challenges her father to a fight, and it’s only after he’s shot in the head that he finally accepts his daughter. (No, really.)

In later issues, Knockout is stalked and murdered by a serial killer who targets superhumans. Knockout is eventually rescued from hell but still can’t catch a break. In her absence, Scandal had begun dating an exotic dancer named Liana, who looks identical to Knockout. (Don’t you just hate when that happens?) Unable to choose, Scandal proposes a polygamous marriage that both women accept, making her the luckiest girl in the comic-book world.

While the list of these villainous couples is short, there are several more single LGBT villains, such as Machinesmith, Man-Killer and Pied Piper. With more gay characters appearing in new comics, who knows what the future will hold and who will come out as more than just an accomplice? Could the comic world be ready for a gay Magneto? After all, the real world was.