Coagula from DC Pride A Celebration of Rachel Pollack Cover
(Image Source: DC / Scot Eaton, Tom Sutton, and Tom Ziuko)

DC Pride Special Resurrects First Trans Superhero

It is a sad truth that many of DC Comics‘ earliest attempts at diversity were well-meaning, but poorly executed. The treatment of Coagula, a Doom Patrol member who was the first trans superhero in the company’s history, is a prime example of this. However, the publisher is making things right, in a DC Pride special honoring Coagula’s co-creator, Rachel Pollack, who passed in 2023.

DC Pride: A Celebration of Rachel Pollack is largely devoted to reprinting classic stories by the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning science fiction author. One of these is “The Laughing Game,” the comic which introduced Coagula in 1993’s Doom Patrol (Vol. 2) #70. However, the collection also contains one new story, “Shining Through the Wreckage,” by Joe Corallo and Rye Hickman. It is this story which resurrects Coagula, after her unceremonious death in 2002’s Doom Patrol (Vol. 3) #9.

Coagula and Robotman in DC Pride A Celebration of Rachel Pollack
(Image Source: Rye Hickman )

“Shining Through The Wreckage” draws deeply on the lore of Doom Patrol, proposing that part of Coagula’s consciousness remained in the mind of Robotman. With the assistance of Dr. Will Magnus, Cliff Steele searches his subconscious to find his former teammate and girlfriend. This enables Coagula, who was a brilliant computer programmer in her secret identity of Kate Godwin, to escape Cliff’s computerized brain, and return to her own body.

Why DC Resurrected Coagula Now

Beyond being a tribute to Pollack’s legacy as a trans writer, Coagula’s resurrection rectified one of DC Comics’ most notorious “fridgings.” This term was coined by Gail Simone, for the website Women In Refrigerators. It refers to any incident of a female comic character being killed, assaulted, or depowered purely to provide angst for a male character. In this case, Coagula died, along with Dorothy Spinner, to give Robotman two more deaths for which to feel responsible.

Death of Coagula in Doom Patrol Vol. 3 Issue 9
(Image Source: DC / Tan Eng Huat)

What made Coagula’s death particularly egregious was how it went almost entirely unnoticed by later writers. Indeed, she made cameos in other DC books decades later, despite being dead. Thankfully, “Shining Through The Wreckage” explains this incongruity, even as it highlights everything that made Coagula a beloved hero.

DC Pride: A Celebration of Rachel Pollack is now available at comic shops everywhere.