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MARVEL VOICES PRIDE #1 [Review]

MARVEL VOICES PRIDE #1/ Created by LUCIANO VECCHIO, MIKE O’SULLIVAN, ALLAN HEINBERG, JIM CHEUNG, MARCELO MAIOLO, KIERON GILLEN, JEN HICKMAN, BRITTANY PEER, CRYSTAL FRASIER, JETHRO MORALES, RACHELLE ROSENBERG, TERRY BLAS, PAULINA GANUCHEAU, KENDALL GOODE, J.J. KIRBY, ANTHONY OLIVERIA, JAVIER GARRON, DAVID CURIEL, TINI HOWARD, SAMANTHA DODGE, MARIKO TAMAKI, KRIS ANKA, TAMRA BONVILLAIN, LILAH STURGES, DEREK CHARM, LEAH WILLIAMS, JAN BAZALUDA, ERICK ARCINIEGA, STEVE ORLANDO, CLAUDIA AGUIRRE, VITA AYALA, JOANNA ESTEP, BRITTNEY L. WILLIAMS & JACOPO CAMAGNI/ Lettering by VC’s ARIANA MAHER/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

Comparison between DC Pride #1 and Marvel Voices Pride #1 is inevitable, if only because so many of the same creators worked on both books. And yet, there is no comparison, because while DC Pride didn’t have a bad story in the batch, there’s quite a bit of Marvel Voices Pride #1 that is problematic. While not quite as bad as the roundly mocked and quickly cancelled New Warriors revamp with heroes called Safespace and Snowflake, there are a few moments in this book that are so forced as to make even the most stalwart of LGBTQ allies wince at the ham-handedness of it all.

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Case in point. I’ll admit it’s been a few years since I read a Daredevil book, but I have a hard time believing that Elektra would apologize for making a joking remark about a gang of robbers not listening to a trans woman scientist about how she doesn’t have anything worth taking. (Come to that, I have a hard time imagining Elektra making jokes.) Regardless, Lilah Sturges has written some great comics in the past, but this whole scene just comes off as painfully forced, as if there was no other way to establish the scientist’s status.

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At the other end of the spectrum is Leah Williams’ team-up between Black Cat and Jessie Drake; a mutant shapeshifter who was Marvel Comics’ first transgender character. (Don’t feel too bad if you’ve never heard of her – this is apparently the third comic she’s ever been in!) The story is good, but they don’t identify Jessie as a trans woman, which is something of a problem given the obscurity of the character and that the fact that the whole purpose of this book is to better represent LGBTQ characters.

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That being said, most of the stories work well. My personal favorite is “Early Thaw,” which is set in the early days of the X-Men and has Magneto offering words of comfort to a still-closeted Iceman after he attacks the Xavier school and finds nobody there to fight apart from a scared 14 year old boy crying about his crush liking a girl more than him. Anthony Oliveria’s script is funny and touching in equal measure and the artwork by Javier Garron with colors by David Curiel offers the perfect blend of slice-of-life and superheroes.

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Another fun story is “Totally Invulnerable,” which centers around the odd friendship that forms when Titania accidentally attacks a She-Hulk cosplayer on the subway near a comic book convention. The fact that Jennifer is a trans woman who was inspired by She-Hulk’s confidence and took her real name to honor her is almost incidental to the rest of the story. I’m also fond of “The Grey Ladies,” which spins a retro tale of Mystique and Destiny facing a classic villain n 1900’s London. You can guess which one pretty easily if you know Destiny’s name.

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In addition to some historical reprints and interviews, there are enough good stories with solid artwork to redeem the most painful parts of Marvel Voices Pride #1. It is a mixed bag, as most anthologies are, but not without its charms despite a few rough edges.

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