Gnosticism—a heretical branch of early Christianity—faded almost entirely from view after its founders were edged out of the Church by what would become orthodoxy. With most of their works lost or destroyed, their ideas survived only in the denunciations from the likes of Tertullian and Irenaeus.The Gnostic focus on secrecy didn’t ensure a broad legacy, either—early leaders such as Valentinius and Marcion privileged access to the deeper nature of the universe for initiates and other worthies. Modern Gnostics avoid the secrecy, and as with many aspects of Gnosticism which may seem troubling, the marginalization of Gnosticism limited our understanding to unfriendly characterizations by their orthodox contemporaries.
But in the 20th century, a treasure trove of Gnostic texts was discovered by a couple of Egyptian farmers at Nag Hammadi in a sealed jar. Ever since, their ideas—which seem stunningly modern in some ways—have started to permeate back into the world, gaining influence well beyond what would be expected from their obscurity, particularly since the texts themselves are rarely read by anyone besides scholars.
Still, the ideas in these texts are starting to make their way into pop culture, directly or indirectly, and Gnostic ideas are fascinating enough to be talked about far away from their original sources. They feature prominently in the His Dark Materials series, and some concepts pop up in such unexpected places as Young Avengers, Final Fantasy, and even Futurama.
Nearly two years ago I made a post on Tumblr proposing that snarky young superhero Kate Bishop, a member of the Young Avengers and Clint Barton’s protégé, was a trans woman. Even upon this most social justice-y of websites, the response was a mixed bag, but the most notable opposition was a version of the classic “ermagerd why does everyone have to be queer?!” argument, with a heaping scoop of “I’m not transphobic tho” for some added zest. Now, in this case I had a little tiny crumb of actual contextual evidence that could possibly suggest that Kate is trans, but the really delightful thing about trans headcanons is that nearly any character in any media could be trans, and ain’t nobody gotta prove nothin’.
It’s common knowledge that fanfiction is positively lousy with gay relationships, and with an almost entirely queer cast of hopelessly attractive young adults, Marvel’s Young Avengers is grade-A shippable material. With two gay men, one lesbian, two bisexuals, and a genderfluid trickster god, the two presumed cishets are outnumbered three to one. I say presumed cishets, because it’s not as though we know everything about Kate Bishop or Tommy Shepherd, which leaves plenty of room to extrapolate.
The eponymously titled Transitions by Zethsaire on AO3 explores the idea that speedster Tommy Shepherd was assigned female at birth and is physically transitioning to male. Set in a slightly alternate version of the Marvel comics universe, it follows the relationship between Tommy Shepherd and Noh-Varr, two members of the Young Avengers, and details how Tommy’s gender identity and transition process affects both of their lives. It also deals briefly with different cultural perceptions of gender, since Noh-varr is also a Kree, and his perspective on the matter is different from the average human.
Usually everyone here at LGG&F gets along really well. We bond over our mutual love of justice and all things geek! But once in a while, chaos comes to our serene nerd community. When all of the good we try to do is abandoned and our writer’s room deteriorates into madness…
Actual depiction of our writer’s room. (gif via imgarcade)
I am, of course, speaking about Valentine’s Day, that heinous holiday that sends us all into a shipping frenzy as our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. It is now my duty as Empress of LGG&F to present to you this year’s bloodstained list. So put on your shipping goggles and prepare yourself for the 2015 Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom!
Some of the saddest comics-related news I heard at the end of last year was that Marvel’s most recent Young Avengers run was going to be coming to an end with issue #15. Well, I finally got my hands on the final issue of the run, and, while the story definitely got a satisfying conclusion, it’s still sad to see it go.
I can’t speak to how different Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s take on the Young Avengers was from the original Young Avengers series by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, as I haven’t read the original. What I did know about this series when it came out was that 1) it was set a few years after the original series, and 2) it was going to be a very diverse group of young adult-age superheroes doing awesome superhero things, and that was really all the hook I needed.