Following in the footsteps of trailblazers DC Comics and Marvel, the makers of Buffy The Vampire Slayer are set to introduce their first gay character.
Slayer Billy will be introduced in the ninth series of Dark Horse Comics’ spin-off of the cult TV show.
‘It’s a very honest, very sweet story about a young man who wants to be a hero,’ said Buffy writer Drew Greenberg in an interview with Out magazine.
He added that he hope the character, which has always been associated as a female role, empowers young gay men.
Greenberg said: ‘So much crap gets heaped upon us as gay men – crap from straight people and, frankly, crap from other gay people – about how it’s important to be masculine in this world, how your value is determined by your ability to fit into masculine norms prescribed by heterosexual society and, sadly, co-opted by gay society as a way to further disenfranchise and bully those who don’t meet those norms.’
He added that he will be ‘thrilled’ if his story makes people examine ‘traditional’ gender roles.
The introduction of Billy is part of a growing trend by comic books to feature gay heroes, with Green Lantern coming out and X Men character Northstar marrying his same-sex partner.
And in March, a gay wedding was featured in a sell-out edition of Life With Archie.
However, Buffy writer and producer Jane Espenson says Billy’s storyline is not just a cynical attempt to attract new readers.
‘We’re hardly pandering when we make a comic book,’ she said.
‘There’s always growing pains when making progress, but I think cynicism in the face of inclusion may not be a profitable route in making progress.’