The world of comic books has been a hotbed of insanity right from the very beginning, but one group of heroes has consistently taken that madness one step further.
Since their creation in the '60s and particularly since Chris Claremont took over Uncanny X-Men in 1975, the X-Men have existed on the fringes of society, their mutations an obvious metaphor for the less visible and most oppressed in modern society. That's why there are so many LGBT mutants.
In 2012, writer Greg Pak revived X-Treme X-Men for a second volume, and with it came one of the most downright insane comic book moments since Emma Frost seduced Cyclops on Jean Grey's grave. More than just crazy, it was both provocative and progressive. I'm talking about the moment when Wolverine made out with Hercules.
For context, in X-Treme X-Men, Dazzler and Cyclops use a Ghost Box to enter a portal into an alternate dimension (or something like that) — Earth 12025, in which exists a number of alt-mutants, essentially creating the opportunity for the X-Men to be reimagined in a completely new set of circumstances with no impact whatsoever on what's already established as canon in the main universe.
In X-Treme X-Men #9, the demi-God Hercules is revealed to be in a relationship with this dimension's Wolverine (who is not named Logan, but James Howlett), in a strip which features a cheekily suggestive line about Hercukes' appreciation of leather. The same strip identifies Hercules as "Son of Zeus, boyfriend of Howlett," followed by the hilariously sassy "That's right. Get used to it."
It's not until the following issue, though, that the two men share a kiss. The panel could hardly be any more dramatic, with the two men framed against a backdrop of vivid color that typifies this insane, fantasy-inspired dimension, Hercules' leg hoisted up around Wolverine's waist... stood atop the carcus of a freshly-slain monster.
This is not a comic book writer throwing in a gay kiss quietly, hoping nobody will notice or care. This is Pak daring the reader to erupt into a ball of flame.
So it was surprising, and refreshing, when this issue of X-Treme was met with pretty much universal positivity, demonstrating that the X-Men, comic books' ultimate underdogs and frequent champions of the oppressed, are beloved enough by readers to skirt any of the potential homophobia that comes with a character going gay — even if it is an alternate universe.
Zeus, full of rage that his son had flaunted his relationship with the mortal Wolverine, would then banish the pair to Tartarus. The issue that followed, #11, was the last in the volume, and although there was some follow-up in the X-termination story arc, the fates of Howlett and Hercules remain unresolved.
Still, while our Wolverine prepares for his last stand (my bad...) in Wolverine 3: Weapon X, which may or may not adapt The Death of Wolverine, it's good to know that somewhere out there, an altogether different kind of beast roams Earth 12025, representing the best of everything the X-Men stand for.