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DC PRIDE #1 [Review]

DC PRIDE #1/ Scripts by JAMES TYNION IV, STEVE ORLANDO, VITA AYALA, MARIKO TAMAKI, SAM JOHNS, DANNY LORE, SINA GRACE, NICOLE MAINES & ANDREW WHEELER/ Art by TRUNG LE NGUYEN, STEPHEN BYRNE, SKYLAR PARTRIDGE, AMY REEDER, KLAUS JANSON, LISA STERLE, RO STEIN, TED BRANDT, RACHEL STOTT & LUCIANO VECCHIO/ Colors by TRUNG LE NGUYEN, STEPHEN BYRNE, JOSE VILLARRUBIA, MARISSA LOUISE, DAVE MCCAIG, ENRICA EREN ANGIOLINI, RO STEIN, TED BRANT & RAIN BEREDO/ Letters by ADITYA BIDIKAR, JOSH REED, ARIANA MAHER, TOM NAPOLITANO, BECCA CAREY & STEVE WANDS / Published by DC COMICS

DC Pride #1 demands a different sort of review. It is, it should be noted, a very good comic. I note this at the start because I will be spending this review writing less about the quality of the book (which is uniformly excellent) and more discussing the individual stories.

Given that this book is an anthology centered around LGBTQ characters as written by LGBTQ creators, there are many who will decry the existence of this book, saying they don’t care for “political” comics. Ignoring that the American superhero comic was built on politics, most of the stories in this volume could be told with straight characters. Even those stories specifically based in LGBTQ culture have no message more controversial than “Nazis rewriting history is bad.”

The first story, “The Wrong Side Of The Looking Glass,” sets the tone for the book. It centers upon Batwoman as she rushes to save her sister, Alice, from the Mad Hatter, only to wind up under his influence herself. The plot is more inwardly focused, however, being an introduction to Kate Kane’s character for those who aren’t familiar with her and haven’t seen the CW series based on her comics. James Tynion IV does a fantastic job of establishing Kate’s inner conflict and how she felt the need to hide her sexuality as a soldier and socialite. Beautifully illustrated by Trung Le Nguyen, the story has a wonderful message (which Jervis Tetch completely misses) about how nobody should feel like they have to emulate someone else’s idea of who they should be.

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“By The Victors” by Steve Orlando and Stephen Byrne is a bit more traditional, being a tale told in flashback, as John Constantine corners fellow magus Gregorio de la Vega (once known as Extrano) in a pub. Gregorio spins a story of how he and Midnighter once joined forces to stop a Nazi Vampire Wizard from rewriting history with a magic ritual and erasing the legacy of Achilles and Patroclus; two gay Greek soldiers rewritten to be cousins rather than lovers. Again, the action and artwork of the story is solid and the gay themes and characters completely incidental to the action.

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“He’s The Light Of My Life” by Sam Johns, Klaus Janson and Dave McCaig is another story of note, being centered around a conversation between Alan Scott and Todd Rice. Scott was recently revealed to be a closeted gay man and his children, Jade and Obsidian (himself a gay hero) were restored into the main-line continuity. While the new history of the JSA in the Infinite Frontier era has yet to be revealed, it’s unimportant to this story, which is about two gay men from different generations discussing their experiences and Alan revealing that it was his son’s struggles that led to his finding the courage to come out.

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Here’s the irony of DC Pride #1. While certain parties will scream bloody murder about political correctness run amok, most of the stories are based around classic comic book plots, with the only LGBTQ tie being the sexuality of the characters. “Be Gay, Do Crime” is all about an anti-hero trying to pay it forward by keeping another potential villain from crossing a line. “Try The Girl” is a typical “hero saves the captive” detective story. “Another Word For A Truck To Move Your Furniture” is based around Harley and Ivy discussing their relationship as an experiment goes haywire and could just as easily be told with Reed Richards and Sue Storm. (Incidentally, this story confirms them as a couple in the mainstream DC Universe, and it is about damn time!) “Clothes Makeup Gift” is based around Jess Chambers, a non-binary Flash from the future, rushing to get ready for a date while dealing with a sudden supervillain attack.

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The classic set-up of a hero dealing with hero business while trying not to miss a date is also the base plot of what is perhaps the most highly anticipated story in this volume. Written by actress Nicole Maines, “Date Night” marks the first appearance of her character from Supergirl, Dreamer, in the comics. It’s a solid story, and brought to life beautifully through the art of Rachell Stott and Erica Eren Angiolini. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Maines writing comics or Dreamer’s adventures.

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The final chapter, “Love Life,” is the heart and soul of the anthology. While being set at a Pride parade, that is inconsequential to the goals of its parasitic villain, who feeds on the torment of others and just needed a large gathering to work with. While it is a little cheesy said villain is stopped by an assembled “JLQ,” the group name is called out as cheesy by the Tasmanian Devil. (Yes. The Tasmania Devil is an actual superhero and he’s gay. Thanks for asking.)

Everyone involved in DC Pride #1 should be proud of their work on this book. The stories assembled here are all about the heroic ideals of Truth, Justice and Freedom and tap into the core of what superhero stories should be. Anyone who finds anything objectionable about this would do well to read more comics.

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