Ooh, you are awesome - queer times for comic book heroes

A kiss may be just a kiss, but when two male superheroes are shown kissing in a Warner Bros comic, that can be a ground-breaking experience.

The American group whose heterosexual comic heroes include Superman and Wonder Woman has portrayed characters Apollo and Midnighter in what has been hailed as the first homosexual kiss in a mainstream comic.

This month's edition of The Authority, aimed at 16-year-olds and above, is already a sell-out and on its way to being a collectors' item.

As first kisses go, the clinch between Apollo, a gay Superman who gets his energy from the sun, and Midnighter, a dead ringer for Batman, is a modest affair.

A taboo may have been broken, but only in the bottom corner of the picture. That said, the sexual tension between Apollo and Midnighter has been unambiguous from the outset. They have held hands and shared a peck on the cheek before this month's full-mouthed kiss.

There are rumours that soon a scene will be shown of the superheroes sitting on a bed stroking each other's hair.

The kiss is a significant step for WildStorm, a subsidiary of DC Comics, publishers of The Authority, who are known as a very conservative group.

Scott Dunbier, group editor of WildStorm said yesterday: "[The kiss] is just part of the story. It is not the focus of the story." Mark Millar, the author, believes the characters are like any other superheroes, fighting crime and saving the world, except that at the end of their adventures they might have a hug.

Alex Alexander, who helps run The Magic World of Comicana comic shop in London's Shaftesbury Avenue, says: "In the London area The Authority is one of the best-selling comics and sales have increased because of the homosexuality angle."

One industry specialist reckons The Authority is outselling Superman by three to one.

Hand-holding, cheek pecks, that kiss and the prospect of a caress on a bed - what will Apollo and Midnighter get up to next?

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