February 4, 2016

By Matt Petras

The latest issue of Saga, perhaps the most critically acclaimed comic book series of the past four years, focuses on Doff and Upsher, two side characters in the series. The two offered solid LGBTQ representation throughout parts of the series as two reporters who happened to be in a gay relationship with each other, but this latest issue fleshes them out and makes them more relevant to the overall story like never before.
For those unaware, Saga is a monthly comic book series that is a lot like Romeo and Juliet, but with a science-fiction twist. Alana, who is from a planet called Landfall, and Marco, who is from a planet called Wreath, fall in love and have a child together even though their respective planets are at war with each other. The two are wanted for treason, so they take their child Hazel around space, trying to keep their family safe.
Enter Doff and Upsher, two reporters who are following the story of these star-crossed lovers for the good money it would bring to them.
The latest issue, #33, is entirely dedicated to the couple and their quest to get the scoop on Marco and Alana. The comic displays their sex life and admiration for each other in a respectful and charming way, and to much great detail than before. Most fascinating, however, is the scene where the two discuss the ethical concerns with exposing these two lovers, especially as gay people who are told their own love for each other is also forbidden.
“Maybe it’s just two people who like to screw even though everybody else thinks it’s gross or immoral or…” Doff says before being interrupted by Upsher, who says:
“Babe, I see what you’re getting at, but there’s nothing analogous about these people and us. Our backward planet might still hate the homos, but a photo of you and me kissing wouldn’t exactly send shockwaves through the rest of the universe.”
I think this moment fleshes out these characters into something truly special. While there is beauty in their love for each other, these two reporters are to a certain extent acting pretty scummy, producing a hit piece on innocent people for cash. The analogy between their forbidden gay love and Marco and Alana’s “treasonous” love is a fair one to draw, but they brush it off. These two characters are three-dimensional, believable people with flaws, which is what readers should expect out of LGBTQ representation in fiction.
Human beings aren’t perfect. We’re often fueled by selfishness, and we do things we know we shouldn’t do. Having gay role models is also important, but if we don’t also expect flawed characterization in LGBTQ characters, we’re denying these people their representation as human.