Muscular men in skintight spandex grappling other muscular men in skintight spandex? Scantily-clad women who can't keep their hands off each other? Foes fanatically obsessed with each other is one trope, but it's never allantagonistic. Perhaps Wertham was right! Compare examples of Ho Yay in other media.
Beetle: That's what I like about you, Gold—you're a man after my own heart!
Booster: And that's just about all I'm after.
Ted (Blue Beetle II) gets a bit with Dan Garrett (Blue Beetle I), too, although it's all in flashbacks or posthumous. When Ted explains how he came to take over the Blue Beetle mantle, he flashes back to Dan's final moments, during which we see Dan caress Ted's face while making him promise to fight in his place. Later, when the stress of the job gets to Ted, he talks to and caresses his photo of Dan.
Some Ho Yay can be spotted when Ted goes out drinking with Firestorm. Of course maybe that's just because Booster is at home sulking that Ted is out with another guy.
As of Generation Lost, Max Lord seems to have gotten in on this. His fight with Booster reads so much like an abusive, jealous ex that fandom's started making cracks about how his killing Ted was really just so he could have Booster all to himself.
In Countdown to Infinite Crisis, Max Lord kept tabs on Booster like he did with all other superheroes. Unlike the other superheroes however, the file on Booster Gold has a picture of him in a speedo.
And in the latest issues of Booster Gold, he's gone back in time and is hanging out with Ted again, and the slashy comments are everywhere. They're even mistaken for lovers at one point, by someone who's only heard them talk for like a minute, and Booster compares them to an old married couple.
Oh, honey, that's mutual. Cap almost constantly mourned Bucky when he was brought out of the ice; he had to be snapped out of it with an intervention. And there was an Elseworld where Namor woke Cap and the only word he could say was "Bucky."
The entirety of Civil War: The Confession reads like a horrifically bad break-up between Cap and Tony Stark. Once you get to the point where Tony's sobbing over Cap's corpse and saying, "It wasn't worth it", it's practically undeniable.
As mentioned in the list of slashy moments, there's even a point in Civil War where Moon Knight tells Cap that he and Tony should just get a room and leave the rest of the heroing community out of their spat.
It gets even more blatant by the end of "Fallen Son" because it culminates with Tony with telling the dead Cap "I miss your battle cry".
And that's without mentioning the time Tony's armour became sentient and started acting like an abusive boyfriend, refusing to let him see his friends and current Love Interest, demanding that Tony get inside it, and eventually taking him to an island and torturing him...where Tony's memories of Steve helped him keep fighting.
Read the end of Avengers Prime and try to say that it doesn't sound like that scene in romantic comedies where the guy admits what a jerk he's been and praises the girl to the high heavens so they can be together. Just look at Tony's face when Steve hugs him!
Tony: "I'm not half as good at — at anything as I am when I'm doing it next to you." He sounds like he's proposing!
And then there are scenes like this, where Cap literally comes riding on horseback dressed in shining armor and wielding a sword to rescue a (naked!) Tony from medieval ogres, and Tony stands there dreamy-eyed while Steve stands in front of him brandishing a sword and looking for all the world like he's protecting Tony's virtue from would-be rapists. And then he carries Tony off on his horse. Most blatant Knight and Damsel metaphor ever.
Steve: Hop on.
Tony: There's got to be another horse running around here somewhere.
Steve: Hop on! Let's go.
Tony: *climbs up on the horse* Any excuse to get me to hold you.
Donnah: You say you love me, but I'm beginning to wonder if you really do. Certainly your feelings for me are far removed from the feelings I have for you.
Terri: You're a lesbian, Donnah. I'm not.
Piper and Trickster in the DCU, especially during the trainwreck that was Countdown to Final Crisis. Piper is canon-gay, but Trickster isn't. Having them chained together, and Trickster constantly asserting his non-homosexuality (but never asserting his heterosexuality) makes the entire storyline seem like Trickster dealing with his sexuality. Until he dies in the most Ho Yay scene of all. Piper then spends the rest of Countdown going mad with grief.
There's a lot of snark and wild theories about Wonder Woman and the romantic life of a woman from an all-female society. Peter David hinted at it once in a Justice League Task Force story, and Gail Simone has tossed out a few hints of her own in her run.
Hints, nothing. In issue 38, one of the Amazons states directly that "[some] have sworn themselves to Artemis, the virgin hunter, and Athena, the chaste warrior. Others choose the way of Narcissus. But most of us find satisfaction in each other. Three thousand years can be a long time, Reverend."
To clarify: It's canonical that the majority of the Amazons are either lesbian or bisexual, with several Amazons canonically having relationships with one another (including Queen Hippolyta/General Phillipus). Wonder Woman has not been confirmed as lesbian/bi in the comics...but current writer has directly stated that as far as she's concerned Wonder Woman is bi, so Word of God has confirmed it, even if DC haven't got the guts to actually allow it to be addressed in the comics.
Greg Rucka, Phil Jiminez and George Perez all agree with Gail on this one.
There's also this page. There have actually been a few other hints in the comic itself, like Wondy saying she doesn't have a boyfriend or a girlfriend at one point.
In Wonder Woman #4 of Brian Azzarello from the New 52 Universe Hera acts toward Hippolyta more as if she was cheating on her instead of her husband Zeus.
Fridge Logic: Hippolyta and the amazons are worshippers of Hera, so they technically cheated on her.
Explicit in Nexus, where Sundra had a fling with Jil. Kind of makes you wonder just how close Sundra and Ursula were once upon a time.
In Nexus #102, Ursula demands that Sundra leave Horatio so that the two of them, Ursula and Sundra, that is, can raise Sundra and Horatio's newborn son Harry together. Ursula also says to Sundra "But I loved you...I always...loved...you."
In Supreme Power, Mark Milton (Hyperion) and half the male cast members, most notably Blur and Doc Spectrum. His first battle with Spectrum is a BDSM-laden spectacle, complete with Mark begging him to hit him.
Marvel's Incredible Hercules features the titular muscular shirtless demigod Public Domain Character traveling around with teenager Amadeus Cho. The innate Ho Yay was lampshaded by the Amazons in issue #121, who kidnapped Cho upon mistaking him for Herc's eromenos. A shocked Cho replies "I've read those internet postings too, and take it from the source, it's total bull!" followed soon by a defensive "The technical term is 'adventuring companions.'" Pages here◊ and here.◊ %%Once termed "the funniest part of the book" in Marvel's Take on Amazons
In the Prince of Power mini, one villain taunts Cho by saying "Heard someone killed your boyfriend." Cho doesn't bother responding.
Said mini also features one character (Delphyne, the same one appearing in the above-linked scenes) openly state that she believes Cho cares about Hercules above all others.
During Hercules's funeral Hercules's various... lady-companions get up to talk about... laying with him. Snowbird says that there are more in the crowd who should join them. Northstar, an openly gay superhero, immediately makes an excuse to leave, much to Namor's surprise.
It's occasionally suggested Cho reminds Herc of Iolaus. Greek myth is pretty clear about the relationship between Hercules and Iolaus...
In one issue, as Cho and Herc are going into Hades for Zeus, Cho gets in trouble for counting cards while gambling and is being manhandled by security. Herc gets severely over protective and almost brawls the security guards away from Cho.
During the "Secret Invasion" arc, Hercules outright flirts with some of the male gods that appear. His bisexuality is just taken as a given at this point without Word of God.
And then there was Avengers Academy #29, where a naked Herc asks which one of the "strapping young lads" would like to help him recreate the first Olympics...
Lampshaded in Greg Rucka's Whiteout. The writer has explicitly stated he wanted to play with this trope as seen in buddy cop films. Marshall Carrie Stetko and secret agent Lily Sharpe's banter verges on flirting, which does not escape the others (one person comments to Lily, "I think she likes you.) There are several scenes where a hetero couple would kiss under the same rising tension, and they share two tender moments - when Lily buttons Carrie's shirt and when Carrie tends to Lily after the latter is severely beaten.
Nightwing has this in spades, being a Launcher of a Thousand Ships of sorts. Red Arrow is a frequent target: Red Arrow's daughter knows him as "Unca Dick" and when they bicker, teammates often remark, "Mom and Dad are fighting again."
Has a fair bit of it with Wally West, The Flash, as well.
Green Arrow and Green Lantern Hal Jordan, in spades. They went on a cross-country trip to see the "real" America: DC's sliding timescale would put that at no more than ten years ago, so what they were looking for in 1998 is a mystery, aside from, perhaps, condoms.
Also, Green Arrow and the Flash (Barry Allen) once had an epic jealous blowout◊ over which of them was Hal's real BFF (masquerading as an ideological clash...what a flimsy excuse...)
Fellow Green Lanterns Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner have bucket loads of Ho Yay too.
After Oracle formed the Girl Power team Birds of Prey, she and Black Canary built up something that can only be called a long-distance lesbian relationship. At one point when Oracle was dating Nightwing, he was showering at her place, and Black Canary assumed it was her showering. So, of course, she saw no problem at all with barging in on her.
It helps that the definitive writer of the series, Gail Simone, encourages fans to write femme-Slash Fic about them.
And some femme-Slash Fic about Huntress and Black Canary and Slash Fic about Huntress and Oracle.
It wasn't just Gail Simone who did it. Chuck Dixon, the series original writer, could pack quite a bit of this trope into the two characters even before they met face to face. The letter columns were filled with fan theories that this was Canary rebounding after her relationship with Green Arrow. Printing images like this◊ (when they actually met for the first time) helped.
It wasn't just between Oracle and Canary: when Spy Smasher, a.k.a. Katarina Armstrong, showed up as an antagonist to the Birds, it turned out that she and Barbara had history. It does help explain the bitterness between Oracle and Spy Smasher in the present if they were once lovers who went through a bad breakup.
An issue of Fantastic Four showed Johnny Storm, sleeping in his bedroom, which is adorned with Spider-Man merchandise. In particular, he's cuddling a Spider-Man doll.
Then there was the time Johnny and Spidey became roommates. Johnny cooked Peter breakfast wearing nothing but boxers and a frilly apron, and generally acts like jealous housewife.
In Dark Wolverine, Daken snidely implies that Ben Grimm, aka The Thing, has feelings for his old pal, Johnny Storm. Ben's enraged response suggests that Daken hit a raw nerve.
Of course, it's entirely likely that Ben thinks of Johnny as his annoying little brother. When someone accuses you of being interested in your own brother, you might get a bit miffed too.
In the Ultimate Universe, Ultimate Johnny ends up dating Ultimate Spider-Woman, who in this world is essentially a duplicate of Peter Parker, including memories and personality, but in a female body. The original Peter is pretty horrified by this.
(On a side note, just before Johnny announces his new relationship, Bobby Drake (Ice-man) tells Peter that he looks pretty. Repeatedly. Ultimate Comics Spider-man #9: Gayest and most awesome issue ever.)
Nah, that was actually just Bobby poking fun at Aunt May saying Peter had "a pretty face".
One Universe away from 616 Jack Storm and Reed Richards are a married couple.
The Juggernaut and Black Tom were cellmates in prison for a while, and were partners ("in crime") for a really long time after getting out. Any time Black Tom got hurt, the Juggernaut would literally cry. The Juggernaut, bitch. And there's been naked cuddles. And of course, after he slept with an alternate universe's She-Hulk, he commented, "Sometimes it's just better with women."
Wonder Man, of The Avengers and Beast, of The Avengers and X-Men. When Wonder Man comes back from the dead yet again in the pages of the Busiek/Perez Avengers, Beast shows up (with a bouquet of roses!) and gives him a big tackle, then a sloppy kiss on the lips.
In an issue of Marvel's Alternate Universe comic Exiles, the team's Alterna-Beast chose not to return to his own universe because, with his lover Wonder Man dead, there was nothing there for him.
Jennifer Morgan and Power Girl in later issues of the original series of The Warlord where they spent a large amount of time in each other's company and were often seen reclining together in Stripperiffic outfits in an attitude that was positively post-coital. In Power Girl's last appearance in the series, they reflect on how close they've become:
Power Girl: It's almost a miracle, how close we've grown, isn't it, Jen?
Jennifer Morgan: Yes, like sisters.
Also the Terra in Power Girl's current ongoing, and Word of God is that Terra is a lesbian. A lesbian who keeps clothes over at Power Girl's apartment.
There's Word of Gay for Terra? Really?!...Link please-and-thank-you.
Zig-zags in the interaction between Phat and Vivisector in X-Force and X-Statix. After some flirty interactions, they begin dating - which turns out to be a fake relationship for media attention. This helps them both realize they really are gay, but not attracted to each other.
Aside from the apparent dates between Captain America and Iron Man, the Marvel Adventures: Avengers series pulled off some Les Yay between Storm and Giant-Girl when Hatemonger's emotion-influencing device went haywire. The two went from yelling their heads off and attacking each other to an embrace and talking about how jealous they were of each other. Spider-Man even mutters "Maybe... they're gonna..." to himself as the other Avengers watch.
Heavy hints were dropped about Cassie Hack's sexuality a couple of times in early Hack Slash stories, before it was confirmed that she was a bisexual in the ongoing comic series.
Rictor and Shatterstar of X-Force were heavily implied to have feelings for each other that went beyond being best friends, complete with late-night conversations about why Shatterstar was so uninterested in the beautiful women hitting on him in clubs, unsubtle text boxes◊, holding hands in the moonlight, and taking one room with just one bed in the X-Force '99 annual. Both characters more or less disappeared for a while, then Rictor shows up in X-Factor. There, he confirms he swings both ways, but denies that he's interested in Quicksilver - then, Jamie makes a sly comment about Shatterstar and Rictor chokes on his drink.
Word of God is that Rictor and Shatterstar were to canonically start a relationship, but when the X-Force title changed hands, the storyline got dropped. The writer who had proposed this possible character development was none other than Jeph Loeb, which is unsurprising from the man responsible for making Superman and Batman the slashiest they've ever been since the purple-prose days of World's Finest.
Empowered delivers Les Yay in abundance. Empowered is a Deconstruction of the Fetish Fuel Station Attendant, but that hasn't stopped her from being either suggested with the other two main females, or even getting molested by one female kidnapper. As for Ho Yay... it's shown, in-universe, that Emp is a Yaoi Fangirl who reads a lot of doujinshi and fanfic. She even slashes her teammates.
Emp is a self-described "three drink bisexual," and the two other main females include Ninjette, who is confirmed as having had at least one sexual experience with another woman, and Sistah Spooky, who is canonically bisexual. The Caged Demonwolf enjoys this set up immensely.
Why has Secret Six not yet been mentioned? Catman and Deadshot spend so much time threatening to kill each other, wrestling with each other, gazing into each others' eyes, cooking for each other, getting naked together... This one is another Gail Simone series, of course.
And don't forget Deadshot attempting to convince Catman to come along as a chaperone on a date because he's afraid of what kinds of kinky shit the girl might spring on him.
Since Deadshot and Jeanette began sort-of dating, she and Catman have twice sided against each other. Both times Deadshot picked Catman over his actual girlfriend.
Plus having an actual lesbian on the team in the form of Scandal Savage. Her relationships with Knockout and Liana are canon; her relationship with Jeanette is more subtext.
Simone has confirmed that Jeanette is bisexual and it's got to be said that she and Scandal are VERY close...they're also both immortal and have a long history with one another. She's also confirmed one of the male members of the Six is Bi too.
The big surprise is that according to Word of God only one of the Six's male members (Catman) is bi. After all, this is a team with Deadshot, Catman, and Bane, a hairy weightlifter who grew up in a South American prison.
In Transmetropolitan, Spider Jerusalem finds that his newspaper columns are being adapted into an anime series, Magical Truthsaying Bastard Spidey. His two female assistants are portrayed as Schoolgirl Lesbians. . . .
And no one is surprised. They do almost everything together...
This trope might be the real reason Spider-man prefers to work alone.
Yeah, but that didn't stop Norman Osborn from piling on the insinuation about him and Harry in "American Son."
Norman: "Just accept it and come clean... about Harry and your obsession with him."
Norman: "Would it loosen your tongue to know that Harry sold you out for a woman?"
And finally, outright
Norman: "Do you love my son?"
Spider-man does get quite a bit of Ho Yay - just most of it is Foe Yay flavored.
Norman Osborn's default interaction with anybody seems to be creepy sexual tension. A notable example is him watching Namor shower. Also, if his early relationship with Peter Parker was supposed to be paternal, it was the sort of paternal that gets you arrested.
Heck, he even had this with Trapster, a minor Spidey/Fantastic Four villain. Of course the twist there was that Spidey was disguised as new supervillain Dusk, whom Trapster took under his wing in the hopes that they could kill Spidey together.
At one point the Chameleon outright says "I love you, Peter."
In Ultimate Spider-Man, there's a scene where Gwen Stacy assures Mary Jane that she loves Peter like a brother, not romantically. She then tops it off by saying that "she's not even sure she's into boys anyway.", eying MJ suggestively.
There was some Les Yay between Gwen and MJ in Amazing Spider-Man as well - even during their catfights over Peter. An exchange between them at one point goes like this:
Gwen: Come along, little one! Gwen will buy you a movie mag to keep you cultural till Pete's on his feet again!
MJ: But, it's like tragic to waste all those dreamy discs!
Gwen: if it's music you want, bunny, we can grab a kazoo on the way!
The idea of Les Yay between She-Hulkand Wasp has been played for Fanservice and laughs at least once. Back during her fourth wall-breaking days, Jen ends up reviewing potential new creative teams for her comic, all of which actually did pages for the issue, intentionally poking fun at their usual work. Of note for this trope was Adam Hughes (AKA: "He of Cheesecake Art"), whose submission had Janet going into combat naked because the clothes she'd been wearing that day hadn't been particle-treated, and Jen appears to enjoy the view before rushing off to join in the upcoming fight as well.
Jen's friendship with the Skrull Jazinda had some pretty strong undertones as well, to the point where Jazinda, captured and about to be dissected by the government, is almost certainly about to say "I always loved you" when her connection gets cut. This is Peter David again, so, not that surprising.
Not to mention that PAD had fun with She-Hulk and Thundra... Jazinda jokes that She-Hulk and she met through an inter-galactic lesbian dating service and Thundra expresses disappointment when She-Hulk denies this. And of course, Thundra is the leader of a society in an alternate future where men and women are engaged in a gendercidal war and so options for partnership are somewhat limited. Given her background, it's somewhat surprising her Les Yay hasn't been played up more but then, she started out as more of a straw feminist than anything.
Hell, Jazinda canonically has the hots for Jen...one half of this pairing is already in place.
In one Superman comic, when Mon-El was subbing for him, he talks with a restauraunt owner who seems really excited about going off for a bite with him. Turns out it's Matter-Eater lad in disguise, and he was just excited about eating. The fangirls were crushed.
Though there's been no sign of it in her games, and in the comic books she is canonically straight, Lara Croft has some moments, especially when Sara Perezzi shows up for the Witchblade crossover. Chief among them Lara going after an evil blob thing because it made 'her' Sara cry, Sara declaring about three times that she 'loves/loved' Lara, and we're about good to go.
As of the last issue (#50), it is canon. Bradbury tells Mitchell he loves him, tries to kiss him and gets rejected. Bradbury...doesn't take this too well. The entire issue is filled with depressing moments like the aforementioned.
Jill Trent: Science Sleuth: The titular heroine and her gal pal Daisy are clearly Heterosexual Life-Partners in this obscure Golden Age feature. But there are lots of Les Yay cues, particularly by 1940s standards. No sign that they're relatives, nor that either girl is married. And unusually for comic book features of the day, there aren't even hints of a token boyfriend for Jill.
Nico and Karolina of Runaways. Oh boy. Karolina nurses a crush on Nico for the first 25-or-so issues before trying to kiss her. Nico is shocked but doesn't exactly deny that she might be interested - it has more to with the fact that her last boyfriend turned out to be manipulating the entire team. Of course, before either of them have five minutes to talk about it, it turns out that Karolina has an Arranged Marriage to a Super Skrull that not even she knew about, and it may be the only way to stop an interplanetary war. It's the Marvel Universe, go figure. They've still had Ship Tease moments ever since K and Xavin came back, and now that Xavin's been Put on a Bus... oh, wait, the series is on hiatus. Great. The hiatus is made all the more frustrating by the second-to-last panel of the last issue, in which Karolina looks like she's about to give Nico another kiss...
And then there's Molly and Klara, who are seldom ever seen apart. The way Molly frets over Klara when she gets seriously injured and the way Klara usually defers to Molly's whims (and instinctively moves to protect Molly from a Sentinel during their visit to Avengers Academy) suggests that they might be more than friends, even if neither one is quite of shipping age.
It was a running theme with the Marvel character Starfox (real name Eros). Technically, his powers aren't supposed to be sexual, but they're always described with words like "caress" and "tickle," ambiguous drawings. Some notable examples include: Captain America◊, Triton◊, and male-coded robots◊.
Mark Gruenwald and Carmine Infantino's run on the original Spider-Woman series was hilariously loaded with Les Yay, with Jessica Drew repeatedly bemoaning her boyfriend's inability to understand that Spider-Woman is a part of her identity (a part which, incidentally, comes with a costume with two upside-down triangles on it...) Similarly, she abandons him twice in one issue to go chasing after Gypsy Moth (who was later outed as bisexual), and after GM is injured (by Jessica Drew's moronic boyfriend, no less), Spider-Woman carries the girl off to recover and lets her go, even though she terrorized partygoers (albeit hilariously pretentious ones), saying that she has more in common with the strange insect-costumed women than with them. The issue ends with Drew coldly refusing to apologize to her boyfriend for blasting him in the face to prevent him from harming Gypsy Moth. Later, after the obligatory "couples therapy via supervillain kidnapping" arc, more Les Yay arrives with the introduction of Lindsay McCabe, who is somehow immune to Jessica Drew's hostility-inducing pheremones, and the arrival of Nekra, a supervillainess determined to kill Spider-Woman because the pheremones cause her to feel "alien" affection for SW. After a culminating fight in which Nekra's hate-fueled powers crap out and SW accidentally puts her in a coma, the arc ends with poor Jessica Drew getting dumped. After a bizarre mini-arc where SW battles a creepy "waxman", she's bailed out of a humilating therapy session by Lindsay, who insists that Jessica stay at her place till she gets her head together. Immediately after that, all the loose ends and subplots from the Gruenwald/Infantino run are abruptly settled in an issue where Jessica Drew is fired from her job AND evicted from her house, leaving her free to move in with Lindsay. One can only wonder if Gruenwald realized that his run on the series could be interpreted as a thinly-veiled story about a woman coming to grips with her sexuality...
In both Witchblade and The Darkness, being the host of the Angelus force comes with a cool suit, the power of flight, a nifty spear, and a small army of similarly-dressed angel minions who are often creepily obsessed with you. On top of that, the current host, Danielle Baptiste, spent several issues of both Witchblade and her own short-lived solo book trying to figure out if she was actually romantically interested in her friend Finch. As of current issues, Dani has gone ahead and started a romantic relationship with Finch, although the series has hinted that the Angelus itself may actually be bisexual, which may have influenced Dani's decision.
The Red Lantern Bleez, and the Star Sapphire Fatality. Of all the New Guardians, they seem very much the closest, and during Red Lanterns Fatality tries HARD to convert Bleez, to get her to swap the power of rage to the power of love. Bleez has issues with love, and Fatality obviously didn't know that removing the red ring would kill Bleez instantly, but the moment was very much there. Fatality is also one of the only beings whom Bleez has willingly shown her face to (Bleez wears a mask).
It's aided by the fact that Bleez, before her torture by Sinestro Corps members, was considered very beautiful, but turned down her suitors. More than one person can equate that to her being a lesbian.
Almost from the beginning of its run, DC's Demon Knights series has been dropping not-so-subtle hints that Exoristos fancies the Shining Knight; for anyone who was still confused, Ex pretty much spelled it out when she declared that the sight of Sir Ystin putting down a giant wolf was "arousing". However, Ystin's situation is... complicated. They do end up going off on an adventure together when Ystin decides to resume the search for the Holy Grail.
Throughout League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's run, it's been hinted at that Mina Murray is at least bisexual. This started as far back as issue 2 of volume 1, when Cootes comments to the effect that Mina would have been an ideal pupil for her over-sexed school. By the time Century 1969 came out, it was pretty much a given, with Mina seducing Julia Gallion. And the final volume, Century 2009, makes it pretty explicit that Mina and Orlando are more than just casual sex partners.
Gen 13 has Rainmaker who is totally into Fairchild.
Tintin's relationship with Captain Haddock gives many readers this impression. Neither character shows any interest in women throughout the series (Haddock actively prefers to avoid the company of women, and states this repeatedly), and as soon as Haddock is restored to Marlinspike Manor, Tintin immediately moves in with him, and lives there thereafter.
Mercy St. Clair, the title character of Ron Randall's Trekker, clearly has a thing for her neighbor Molly. It is just as clear that Molly reciprocates.
And it's only getting clearer, to the point where one might reasonably speculate that the author is planning to make it canonical.