DC Pride #1 (2021)
by Marc Andreyko, Danny Lore, Steve Orlando, and Maruko Tamika
Art by Stephen Bryne, Trung Le Nguyen, Amy Reeder, and Lisa Sterle
84 pp. Paperback
The June 8, 2021, 84-page introduction to the DC Pride series titled as such, is an anthology of multiple LGBTQ+ characters within the DC comic universe. Written by Steve Orlando, Mariko Tamaki, Marc Andreyko, and Danny Lore with art by Trung Le Nguyen, Stephen Byrne, Amy Reeder, and Lisa Sterle, the compilation of short stories and character artwork offers a dedicated space to witness 9 new stories centered around characters such as Batwoman, Aqualad, Midnighter, Extrano, Alan Scott, Renee Montoya, Future State Flash, Pied Piper, Obsidian, and more. Along with that comes the official comic introduction of Dreamer from CW’s Supergirl onto the DCU, an impressive pinup art gallery of re-imagined characters, and six profiles of DC TV characters and their actors.
Throughout the anthology, readers are given a compelling, character driven presentation of the various characters finding or solidifying connections to their sense of self and how they interact with others in their worlds. Batwoman and Aqualad offer us insight into characters trying to control and remold themselves while allowing themselves to find their strength despite not having that control. Similarly, people like Harley Quinn are shown putting to words the internalized sense of oppression that prior relationships have had on shaping the apparent eternally non-serious aspect of their personalities, continuing to provide depth to already complex characters. From Alan Scott, we are even confronted with a man who came to personally understand himself as a part of the queer community during prohibition, not feeling able to come out until recently because his existence was political and how that impacted him. From all of these stories, we can see different ways people can come to terms with who they are and how they proceed to respond to that.
The comic also offers insight on how characters deal with their own principals and how they coincide with their place as hero or otherwise in their universe. Pied Piper is confronted by Drummer Boy who wants to stop a wealthy landlord from wiping out poor and gay neighborhoods for his own gain, while feeling that the wealthy Pied Piper, an apparent hero, does nothing. With that, he begins to re-evaluate how he can go back to fighting things like that which he originally stood for, despite his new position, while also convincing Drummer Boy there are other options. Even Dreamer in her introduction struggles with her knowledge of the future because of her powers and what she is meant to do with that information. These characters signify an internal comprehension of how they wish to stand by their motivations and principals and what it means for them to do so, a narrative I am frequently drawn to.
While heavy handed at times, often using phrasing that seems to hammer in the fact that this was a Pride edition of this comic that was released during Pride month, the stories still stand to offer something for readers to connect to that is trying to make itself more prevalent within the mainstream. It is notable however that these are established characters whose stories are a part of their pre-existing universe, and while it is not impossible to read without it, it does appear to be written for those who have some background knowledge on the characters and the DCU in general.
This collective demonstrates a sense of self-love in how these characters become who they are. How they understand their actions, where they choose to change themselves, and what they make hold firm within their beliefs indicates where they stand with themselves. Overall, the various stories offer a space for not only the characters to come to terms with parts of themselves, but for its readers to possibly see parts of themselves in parts of popular culture, something I appreciated as a member of the community myself.
- Essence Saunders
California State University, Stanislaus