Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) debuted as a member of Canadian super-team Alpha Flight in Uncanny X-Men #120. He is now a full-fledged member of the X-Men and is also one of the first comic book characters to be openly gay. Whether he is the first or not depends on whether one counts creator intent versus actual in-comic revelation. Creator John Byrne has said that he meant for Northstar to be gay from his inception in 1979 (but then Marvel Editor Jim Shooter had a no gays policy in Marvel Comics). Northstar didn’t actually come out until 1992 in Alpha Flight #106. The portrait above is by extraordinary artist David Yardin.
Comicvine has a intensive summary of Northstar’s history, comics fan Eric A. Diaz waxes rhapsodic about the mutant speedster on Gayscape, and Uncanny X-Men.net has a great entry about Jean-Paul (including a costumes checklist). Above, Northstar looks appropriately pleased with himself (the character has a history of being smug) in a fan commission piece by character creator John Byrne.
This illustration by John Byrne was used for Northstar’s entry in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (an invaluable resource for learning about the decades of Marvel character history). You can also read more about Northstar and the behind the scenes stories regarding his depiction at Lonely Gods (scroll down until you see Jean-Paul).
P. Craig Russell created this amazing artwork for a 1994 Marvel Swimsuit Special. Strangely enough, the final result was altered before publication. Compare the original above with this image. The one you see here is more playful, almost a little goofy. It is rare to see Northstar at ease. The final result is a more serious portrait, devoid of humor and whimsy.
Joe Phillips shows the sexy side of Northstar in this commission piece from 2009. It would be nice to see more of this aspect of Jean-Paul’s personality in the mainstream comics. Tim Fish recently explored Northstar’s personal life in Nation X #2 (and talked about it for Comicus). Marvel has a great post about it with selected art.
Dave Ross drew a more beefcake version of Northstar, who also looks more contemplative than usual. Jean-Paul is not usually depicted as thoughtful or deep, but there’s always room for improvement!
Here’s the cover to Northstar #1 by Dario Carrasco, Jr. and Mark McKenna. Interestingly enough, Marvel chose not to mention Northstar’s sexuality at all in this four issue mini-series. I remember being extremely disappointed in this series especially after the coming out hype from the Alpha Flight series.
Aurora is twin sister to Northstar and has an equally complicated character history as her brother. Their storylines are often about each other (Northstar spent a lot of time searching for Aurora). Check out this bio about Aurora. The above image of the French-Canadian siblings is by Tom Burgos.
Mark Brooks drew the Beaubier twins for X-Men Annual #1. It was a monumental storyline for the twins by Mike Carey, restoring them to their most basic character templates. Check out a preview of the comic on Comic Book Resources.
Another Mark Brooks portrait of Aurora and Northstar, this one a preliminary sketch.
Toronto based illustrator and comic book artist J. Bone draws an awesome Northstar! Jean-Paul looks beefy, but streamlined; cocky, but also heroic. I say let him draw the character regularly. Fans of more manly beefcake should check out Bone’s blog Man’s Adventure.
For more about gay characters in comics check out this Comics Alliance article, Prism Comics, and the Gay League!