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Pride Month this year will bring with it a number of celebrations within the comics publishing world, including Marvel's jam-packed one-shot Marvel's Voices: Pride. Now, we know that while that issue will be full of stories celebrating the publisher's current roster of LGBTQ+ characters and creators, it will also introduce someone brand-new. Get ready to meet Somnus.
Created by writer Steve Orlando (Curse of the Man-Thing), artist Luciano Vecchio (Champions), who designed the character's look, Somnus' backstory will be revealed in Marvel's Voices: Pride in a new story written by Orlando and drawn by Marvel debut artist Claudia Aguirre (Hotel Dare). Described as a mutant who had an "extraordinary impact" on a member of the X-Men sometime in the past, Somnus is a character whose own dreams never seemed to come to fruition, despite his ability to control the dreams of others. For Orlando, inspiration from the character came from his own forebears in the LGBTQ+ community.
“Somnus, Carl Valentino, is inspired not only by my own family history, but by my experiences with past generations of LGBTQ+ folks from across the country, people I wouldn't have met without comics,” Orlando said in a press release. “While there is still plenty of work to do, we've also come a long way as a community. Somnus is a chance to explore how my own late queer relatives may have felt, living in more prejudiced times. He's also a chance to celebrate past generations as a whole and acknowledge the strides we've made that they may not have lived to see. And with the Krakoan era being one of relative utopia for mutantkind, Somnus will bring a fresh perspective, and respectful gut check, to the young mutants of the present who may not know just how hard some had to fight for all mutants have achieved. Within the story and without, Somnus will be a new, complex character carrying a message of respect, power, and vision.”
And as you can see from the costume designs below, Somnus' overall look retains something of a classic Marvel mutant feel while also delivering something new, in keeping with the character's relevance as someone from the untold past with a lot to say about the present.
"This time the design process itself felt almost like channeling," Vecchio said. "I wanted him to have an air of ‘man of your dreams,’ very charming and human but unreachable at the same time. Some visual elements are a mix of Mod fashion, a bit of Hellfire Gala influence, and a palette based on Etruscan vase art as a nod to the god he’s named after.”
It is, of course, fitting that a character like Somnus will make his debut in a Pride Month-centered one-shot, but it's also fitting that he'll arrive in Krakoa at a time when mutantkind is still charting the course of its future, in part by reckoning with its past. As recent events like X of Swords and new stories like Way of X have illustrated, Krakoa still has a lot of issues to work out as a nation, including a certain sense of internal morality that comes with the apparent promise of utopia. Somnus now has a chance to add something important to that conversation, and he'll start doing that on a very big stage.
Marvel's Voices: Pride arrives, with a Somnus variant cover drawn by Vecchio (pictured above) everywhere comics are sold on June 23.