Two New Comic Releases Face Sexuality Head On

The Kevin Keller Hardcover

Today is a pretty big day for socially-and-sexually relevant comic books. Anyone who is/loves/sleeps with/knows a comic reader knows that Wednesday is New Comics Day, but you might not know exactly what’s hitting the shelves at your local comic store, or how relevant these stories are. I’ll admit that while I knew one of these was coming, I wouldn’t have guessed the second one in a million years, even if it does make perfect sense.

I will give fair warning now that in the second part of this post, I’m going to give away pretty big spoilers for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book. If you’re ever planning on watching the series or reading the comics (which are created by Buffy’s creator, Joss Whedon, making them more substantial than your average spin-off), then I’d skip the second half.

The first bit of news comes from Archie Comics. Chances are, you’ve heard that Archie Comics introduced an openly gay character to the Archie-verse back in September of 2010. Originally created as a supporting cast member, Kevin Keller’s impact on Archie comics and comic history in general brought Archie back to mainstream America’s attention.

The first issue of Kevin Keller's ongoing series!

It turns out that Keller was such a popular creation that he quickly hit several milestones. Keller’s first appearance in Veronica issue #202 was so popular that the issue sold out, prompting Archie Comics to reprint the issue, a first for the company in its 70+ year history.

Today marks a second milestone: Kevin Keller officially has his own series. Keller is one of the few Riverdale characters to headline their own ongoing series and, along with DC Comics’s Batwoman, Keller is now one of two openly gay characters that star in their own series from a major comics publisher.

Also available today is a hardcover graphic novel that features the first six issues that Keller made an appearance in, including two issues of Veronica and the original four-issue Keller mini-series. I know for a fact that local shop Star Clipper Comics on Delmar has the hardcover and the first issue of the ongoing series if you’re interested in checking out Riverdale’s latest addition! (Full disclosure, my roommate works for Star Clipper, but I’m also just a huge fan of theirs.)

The new issue of Buffy

And then, on the more serious-hot-button side of things, we have Buffy the Vampire Slayer.Again, there be major spoilers ahead!

Since 2007, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon has been continuing the adventures of Buffy and the Scooby gang in comic book form, beginning with the five-year run of “Season Eight” and continuing in the current series, “Season Nine.” Today sees the release of “Season Nine’s” sixth issue, one that’s already garnering national attention for once again addressing hot-button issues, something the television series was well known for exploring. Using fantastical and paranormal metaphors, Whedon used Buffy to explore teenage life. In one classic example, Buffy’s boyfriend, the vampire Angel, reverts to his evil, soulless persona Angelus the moment that they sleep together.

USA Today reports that today’s issue will feature Buffy not only dealing with the fact that she’s pregnant:

Buffy tells Willow...

…but also considering an abortion:

Buffy discusses the issue with friends...

Buffy discusses the issue with Spike

From USA Today:

There were two key aspects to discussing the hot-button issue, says the comic’s executive producer, Joss Whedon: It had to be portrayed as a difficult decision for Buffy, and it had to be treated with respect on the creative side.

“It’s not something we would ever take lightly, because you can’t. You don’t. It’s not an easy thing for anyone,” he says.

Whedon points out that Friday Night Lights is one show that recently tackled abortion with the proper respect. And he concedes there’s a little bit of a political jab in the Buffy story line. It’s not that women should be on one side or the other, he says, but that people have to make this decision and talk about it.

“It offends me that people who purport to be discussing a decision that is as crucial and painful as any a young woman has to make won’t even say something that they think is going to make some people angry.”

Once again, I’ll point out that Star Clipper Comics has these in stock (as will most other comic shops—Buffy is a big seller in comics.)