This month, the first queer supernatural graphic novel was released from DC Millennium comic book series featured Extrano, an openly gay magician. Convent (by Jennifer Dugan and Kit Seaton) is a graphic novel featuring Emsy, a queer paranormal heroine on the hunt for her clan’s killer. As a young teenage witch, Emsy would much rather surf with her friends or hang out with her girlfriend than practice witchcraft. Following a string of recent murders, however, Emsy must dust off the cobwebs from her spellbook and find the killer before he strikes again. Several superheroes and villains have come out openly to fans and comic book readers, but Emsy is the first openly queer supernatural hero. Similar to the DC Pride comics, graphic novels Convent blazes a new trail for queer representation in the magical realm of the supernatural.
Over thirty years ago, DC comics featured the first openly gay supernatural Extrano in 1988. Home of the primeval Earth, Gregorio De La Vega, a little magician, transforms into Extrano when the Guardians of the Universe share their metahuman powers and immortality abilities with him. Described as festive and flamboyant, the colorful wizard battled AIDS-infected vampires and served as a supernatural ally to Midnighter, the leader and founder of the Justice League Queer superhero team. While Extrano didn’t hit readers until years later, in 2016, author Steve Engleheart and illustrator Joe Staton always wanted Extrano to embody all the stereotypes of a gay man. Since the creation of Extrano, several heroes like Northstar, Jon Kent and Robin by Tim Drake have spoken about their sexuality. However, this is the first time since Extrano that a queer supernatural hero has fascinated readers.
Supernatural heroes like Ghost Rider, Scarlet Witch, and Moon Knight have always fascinated comic book fans. Heroes with these powers baffle readers with abilities like altering time and space. In addition, these superheroes possess superhuman strength and abilities such as flight or regeneration. They defy the laws of physics and nature, transcending metaphysical planes by conjuring spirits, stepping through the gates of hell and traversing spiritual realms. Sure, Spidey’s senses and light-speed travel shatter their own barriers, but the supernatural abilities embody mystical and otherworldly powers. The main character Emsy is no exception to this rule. Although she prefers to hang out with friends or study for classes, Emsy’s supernatural powers require mastery and finesse to successfully defeat the Death Witch.
Emsy, the teenage witch, is forced to grow up fast as she races to solve the murder of witches in her clan. Hunted by a dark death witch, Emsy must hone her neglected skills before the death witch strikes again. Befriending a surviving clan member and fellow queer supernatural, Emsy and her new friend Ash swap stories of firebending and sip milkshakes at her new small-town restaurant. Although she is homesick and misses her girlfriend in California, Emsy begins to understand the importance of her supernatural abilities and her role in the upstate New York coven. Now, with the fate of her coven resting on her shoulders, Emsy’s supernatural powers must be strong enough to defeat the Death Witch and save the remaining members of the coven from ultimate peril.
Convent features the first queer supernatural hero in over thirty years, but the graphic novel isn’t the first comic to feature a teenage witch. From 2015 to 2018, Dark Horse Comics published the comic book series County of Harrow centered around a teenage witch named Emmy. Set in the 1930s, County of Harrow is a series of horror stories that follows Emmy as she slowly uncovers the truth about the county’s supernatural inhabitants. In County of Harrow #16, written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Tyler Crook, teenage witch Emmy faces the difficult decision of joining a powerful clan claiming to be her family. While not a queer modern-day supernatural, the similarities between Dugan’s Emsy and County of Harrow Emmy is too similar to ignore.
Despite Coven’s premise and main character lacking in originality, it has the first graphic novel with a queer supernatural hero since DC’s Extrano. This unique character story, coupled with his Californian vibes and surfing hobbies, modernizes already existing and outdated witchcraft stories. Convent kicks off the first month of fall with a modern twist on a supernatural story perfect for Hallows Eve just around the corner. The graphic novel is a great blend of murder mystery and sorcery, sure to entertain and fill the dark hearts of supernatural fans full of gory joy.