When "Marvel Voices: Pride #1" is released next month, two new mutant transgender superheroes, and their flying turtle, will be taking their first steps into the Marvel Universe.
Shela Sexton, also known as Escapade, and her best friend and fellow transgender mutant hero Morgan Red will embark on a "high-flying, yet intensely personal mission," Marvel Comics announced this week. The duo will be accompanied by a genetically modified flying turtle named Hibbert, who they "liberated" from a laboratory.
Speaking with Marvel, Escapade co-creator Charlie Jane Anders described Shela as "a cool weirdo," who's "a total goofball," with a "profound loyalty to her friends."
Anders, who is also transgender, said Shela and Morgan's "transness" is a fundamental part of their identities, as well as the identities of other characters who feature in the comic.
"It was really important to me to have a whole community of trans mutants in this comic – not just Shela and Morgan, but others," she said. "I wanted it to be super clear that being a mutant is not a metaphor for being trans, and vice versa."
For Anders, "chosen family" was an important element of the new heroes' story.
"I spent a lot of time thinking about Morgan, and how they and Shela had grown up together," Anders said. "I eventually arrived at the thing where Morgan was there for Shela when she was first transitioning, and the two of them kind of supported each other through their transitions when they were kids.
"I feel like we are all nothing without our relationships," she added.
According to Anders, Shela "has experienced some rejection because of her transness," but the "amazing community" she's found rallies around and supports her.
"She wants to be there for everybody who's been left behind, and she wants to help people feel like they can belong and be seen and loved," she said. "That was something I really hope everyone reading this comic, especially young trans people, take away from it."
The new superheroes will journey through the mutant nation of Krakoa as state legislative sessions begin to conclude. According to The Hill, more than 300 bills affecting LGBTQ+ individuals, especially transgender youth, have been introduced in state legislatures across the country this year.
"Marvel Voices: Pride #1" is scheduled to be released June 22.
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