Less than a year after debuting in the pages of Veronica, Archie Comics’ first gay character, Kevin Keller, is set to get his own ongoing series. This is a major leap forward for a publisher best known for its safe and overwhelmingly conservative children’s comics.
In fact, while the series will likely include the standard teen comedy of the other Archie comics, there are already signs that it will tackle major queer political controversies that are ongoing in the US. Kevin’s father is in the military and Kevin aspires to follow in his footsteps — touching on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. A future-timeline series called Life with Archie will explore Kevin’s adult relationships and eventual gay marriage.
On top of that, Kevin’s homosexuality doesn’t prevent him from being a star athlete, a popular student and class president — all signs that the book is presenting a normal, healthy and positive look at teen sexuality.
It’s just more evidence that comics have come a long way since the first mainstream gay superhero, Northstar, was reduced to referring to his sexuality through oblique hints:
(Missing the subtext here? Northstar was going to be revealed to be dying of AIDS in the late ‘80s, but the story was nixed at the last minute. Instead, the writer revealed that he was part elf and was sick because fairies couldn’t live on earth. See what they did there?)