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Monday, December 14, 2009

The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Moondragon had shown a maternal protectiveness toward Cloud ever since the younger hero joined the team. When an encounter with the villain Manslaughter left Moondragon shaken, Cloud offered comforting words, and said, "I love you." And she didn't mean platonically.

That was the closing scene in Defenders #134. The following issue showed Cloud's misgivings about her feelings, echoing the thoughts many people face when coming to understand their sexuality. This was groundbreaking material for mainstream comics at the time (before Northstar became the first major comic book hero to officially come out of the closet in Alpha Flight #106).

A surprise for readers came in Defenders #136 when the female hero transformed into cloud form, then resolidified as a young man—describing the metamorphosis as a way to be close to Moondragon without raising eyebrows about homosexuality.

Cloud: (As a male) I can love you, Moondragon--everything that was wrong is now right! I can love you--and I do.

It didn't matter whether Cloud was male or female. The feelings were unrequited either way. Moondragon put her cards on the table in #140, explaining how she had inadvertently manipulated Cloud's feelings (following telepathic commands she began using as early as #126) in an attempt to persuade someone to help remove the mystical headband that limited her power.
Moondragon: I was sending out subliminal sexual impulses in hope that someone, Angel or Iceman say, would fall in love and so help to remove the band. You got caught in that net. Please shake off your mad impulse--as I have shaken off mine.

Cloud: It's not a mad impulse! But--all right--before I go--just tell me one thing--does it mean you don't love me at all?

Moondragon: If you can tell me what love is--then I can answer you. Otherwise--

Cloud: I see. Goodbye, Moondragon.

For all her arrogance, Moondragon was remorse that she may have unintentionally altered the emotions of someone else—particularly someone to whom she felt kindness. But maybe Moondragon wasn't at fault. Attraction isn't always rational. Perhaps Cloud's feelings toward the standoffish telepath were indeed real.
Peter B. Gillis wrote the Defenders issues that disclosed the feelings between Cloud and Moondragon.


Cease said...

I'd only read about Cloud in the Handbook half a lifetime ago. This was truly ahead of its time, though Cloud's meta-human (non-human) status meant there would be no societal context in which to deal with the consequences of such choices, right?
Thanks so much for adding me to your blogroll[IMG][/IMG] I'll have the last of my Defenders epic up on integr8dfix.blogspot within the week, complete with drawings.

demoncat_4 said...

i remember how ground breaking that issue was back then not only cloud switching genders even though he /she had a thing for ice man too but how heart breaking it was when moondragon revealed she was just using cloud for her own gain. plus also marvel manage to not get the issue blocked for having one female character tell another she loves her.