Read Lovely Books

Queer Superhero History: Maggie Sawyer

In recent years, mainstream comics publishers like DC and Marvel have made great strides in increasing the

Unlike our first two trailblazers, Extraño and Cloud, Maggie Sawyer is someone fans of queer superhero

Maggie bears the distinction of being the first canonical lesbian in mainstream comics…even if it took

Maggie first debuted in Superman #4 (April 1987), and was created by John Byrne

She becomes a recurring character in the Superman books and eventually, a grudging ally of the Man

Maggie turns to Superman for help when her daughter, Jamie, goes missing

When Superman is surprised to hear that Maggie is married, she explains that she’s actually divorced,

“There were things happening in my head that I’d been denying for a long time

” When she and her husband finally divorced, he managed to deny her custody for not being “a

Sign up to The Stack to receive Book Riot Comic's best posts, picked for you

It doesn’t take much effort to read between the lines and see what Maggie’s not

(Later, he tries, albeit half-heartedly to the modern eye, to convince Jamie’s father to grant Maggie

” He hammers his point home by trotting out a beautiful female assistant in a low-cut top and

Why the obliqueness? Well, remember, the Comics Code Authority continued to forbid queer characters until 1989

But according an article in the fan zine Amazing Heroes #144 (also discussed in the Extraño profile),

It’s also the second time a DC editor is quoted in that article as saying, essentially, “

I created the first gay super-hero, [Northstar], and certainly the first gay character in Superman

This nuanced, three-dimensional portrayal of a gay lead earned the book a 1996 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding

In the 2000s, Maggie moved to Gotham and joined the cast of a different procedural, Gotham Central

During the New 52 reboot in 2011, she began a relationship with Batwoman, Kate Kane

DC insisted that their refusal was not because Kate and Maggie were gay, but because superheroes weren’

As of the 2016 Rebirth reboot, Maggie is back in Metropolis and the Superman books

She also appeared in live action in Smallville, played by Jill Teed

Unlike prior tentative television appearances, Supergirl put Maggie’s sexuality front and center via her relationship with

(It does, however, make her two for two on storylines where her engagement to another woman falls

She’s also been consistently portrayed as brave, upstanding, stubborn as all get-out, and unafraid to be

But hopefully DC can move away from their history of unthinking copaganda while still letting us keep

And hopefully the next time she gets proposed to, she can actually make it to the damn