DC Comics is no stranger to 80-page anthologies. They often release them to accompany big story events like last year’s Dark Nights: Death Metal, but also for special occasions like this past Valentine’s Day’s DC Love is a Battlefield. DC usually releases one for the summer, but this year they’ve switched it out for their first Pride Month anthology DC Pride #1 with nine new stories to celebrate “a parade of LGBTQIA+ characters and creators.”
DC Pride #1 begins with a story about arguably DC’s highest-profile LGBTQIA2+ hero: Batwoman. “The Wrong Side of the Looking Glass” written by Batwoman-alum James Tynion IV uses a mirror metaphor to provide an interesting exploration of Kate’s life as a lesbian and her struggle with the differences between her and her sister. Trung Le Nguyen also makes full use of the whopping ten pages the story is given, contributing to both the fairy tale theme and emotional journey of Kate’s life through intricate art and colors.
Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, DC’s other popular LGBTQIA2+ characters, also have a story. “Another Word for a Truck to Move Your Furniture” written by Mariko Tamaki is cute and seemingly pokes fun at DC’s wishy-washiness over the years about the status of their exact relationship. The summary of it in the U-Haul term with the wacky yet emotional art by Amy Reeder works well to solidify their status.
“By The Victors” written by Steve Orlando, a story featuring John Constantine, Midnighter, and sorcerer Gregorio de la Vega, is a glimpse back into Orlando’s Midnighter and Apollo (2016) mini-series. It’s a nice combination of heroics and character and delves into the topic of straight-washing history, but somehow felt lacking in substance considering the three characters. Though, maybe it’s because this story feels like it could spin into a whole series.
Vita Ayala’s “Try The Girl” with stunningly complimentary art by Skylar Patridge is an enchanting look at Renee’s personal life and her role as The Question. Considering she’s barely been in comics since the New 52 revamp, let alone as The Question, it’s a bit bittersweet knowing that she might be lost to the void until next year. It’s similar to Sina Grace’s “Be Gay, Do Crime,” featuring Pied Piper and newcomer Drummer Boy with dynamic art from Ro Stein & Ted Brandt. It tackles the very real and poignant topic of generational differences within the LGBTQIA2+ community, but I wonder when, if ever, we’ll get to see this kind of storytelling with these characters otherwise.
Some of my favorite tales in this issue go beyond in their exploration of identity and community, including Sam Johns’ “He’s the Light of My Life” featuring Obsidian and Green Lantern Alan Scott, with atmospheric art by Klaus Janson and stellar use of colors by Dave McCaig. The story remarkably explores a strained father/son relationship and the struggles of coming out through the use of superhero façades and light/dark metaphors, expanding on sentiments found in a Dark Nights: Death Metal story.
Another favorite is a story exploring Future State newbie Jess Chambers and Andy Curry’s relationship in “Clothes Makeup Gift.” Danny Lore crafts an adorable yet infinitely relatable slice-of-life story coupled with the introduction of a future Flash rouge. It’s incredible to see a non-binary hero just be themselves, and under the mantle of one of DC’s most popular heroes no less.
“Date Night” is also fantastic. Written by Supergirl actress Nicole Maines, it’s an apt introduction of the transgender hero into the comic universe with an exploration of Dreamer’s powers, character, and relationship. More authentic is that Maines is the one who plays Dreamer on Supergirl, making the story not simply one of those money-grabbing screen-to-page adaptations, but a true expansion on and insight into the character.
The last story in DC Pride #1 makes for a delightful conclusion to the celebration of DC’s LGBTQIA2+ heroes. “Love Life” written by Andrew Wheeler features Jackson Hyde as Aqualad attending his first Pride parade, a staple moment for those in the community. The rally of previous characters is nice, but it’s paired with the unnerving possibility that some of these characters with little page time might not be seen for a while. Though, it’s a real exploration of self-acceptance and community (with a nod to a potential Justice League Queer title).
None of these stories are wholly lacking in something, but because this is one of the few times we’ll be seeing these characters interact like this, and seeing some of them at all, it has the potential to be performative. Of course, with nine stories in an 80-page issue there isn’t a lot of room to give every character a story in such depth. But beyond DC Pride #1, appearances of characters like Renee Montoya, Bunker, and Traci 13 have been few and far between as of late. Hopefully, the LGBTQIA2+ characters in this issue won’t just be paraded out as shown as “out” in Pride-related issues, but become a more regular part of the world.
Despite any qualms around performativity or rainbow-washing I may have with DC, DC Pride #1 contains a plethora of great stories, ranging from cute and charming to heartfelt and intriguing accompanied by gorgeous pinups and cool interviews from DC TV stars. Definitely worth picking up for some fun content and to show DC that this kind of issue is something worth continuing.
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