DC Comics has introduced plenty of gay, lesbian and bisexual superheros in recent years—and even a few transgender characters—but this week it may have broken new ground by revealing that the mystical Shining Knight is intersexed.
We say “may have” because the scene is open to interpretation.
In Demon Knights#14, the Shining Knight—a.k.a. Ystin—is discussing future plans with a female comrade who’s seemingly taken a “shine” to the mystical hero. “I think you like one… aspect of who I am,” the Knight explains. “But I’m the other too. I was born this way. I’ve kept saying, whenever anyone asks. I’m not just a man or a woman. I’m both.”
Ystin doesn’t elaborate on what the comment means exactly—was the Knight speaking literally or metaphorically? The series is set in the medieval past, so contemporary ideas of gender identity and transitioning are kind of out the window.
The question of Ystin’s true sex has been a longrunning theme inDemon Knights: In last month’s issue, satanic hordes presented the Knight with demons in both male and female wedding attire, stating “You have to choose the bride or the groom. Either promises quite a wedding night. Too long have you refused to declare your sex. Reveal yourself before everyone! Now!”
Surprisingly enough, the Shining Knight is one of DC’s oldest characters, debuting in 1941’s Adventure Comics #66. Back then, he was the traditionally chivalrous Sir Justin, saving wenches from dragons and such. But in 2005, the character was revamped by comics writer Grant Morrison into Ystin, a woman pretending to be a man in order to be accepted in Camelot. But writer Paul Cornell tweaked the character again last year for Demon Knights, leaving Ystin’s gender open to interpretation. “I think that’s down to what each individual reader wants from that exchange, or most identifies with,” Cornell told Newsarama. “Why shut down any of the possibilities?”
What do you think? Does the Shining Knight represent a new inclusiveness in comics or an immature Crying Game type stereotype?