Pride doesn’t end in June so we want to take a deeper look at DC’s Pride Anthology featuring a number of voices.
“Super Pride” – Devin Grayson (writer), Nick Robles (artist), Triona Farrell (colorist), and Aditya Bidikar (letterer). Edited by Arianna Turturro.
In the opening story to the 2022 DC Pride anthology, Devin Grayson tells a sweet story about the meaning of symbolism. Jon Kent, the son of Superman, has recently donned the ‘S’ on his chest, and a new boyfriend. Jon talks about the crest of the House of El, the Kryptonian symbol for hope, and the power behind symbols.
Alongside Devin Grayson, this story is brought to life by the ever-talented Nick Robles, Triona Farrell, and Aditya Bidikar. Farrell’s bright colors elevate Robles’s art, and Bidikar blends Grayson’s poignant prose seamlessly into the page.
The story opens with Damian Wayne’s Robin having the enemies right where he wants them. Jon then swoops in (in true Superman style) to hurry the process along, to Robin’s chagrin, because they have a parade to get to. While Robin talks about the origin of Pride, the Stonewall riots, Jon says that now it’s a party. This shows that either Metropolis is a true fictional city, where civil rights are not in question, or that Jon is youthfully unaware that while we have made great strides as queer people, there is still a lot of work to be done. I believe that this is entirely up to the reader’s interpretation and prerogative, but personally, I chose to read it as the latter. I think as a young queer superhero Jon has a lot to learn, and this juvenile rose-tinted view is a good way to write that into the character, even if it is just for a short anthology story.
“Confessions” – Stephanie Williams (writer), Meghan Hetrick (artist), Marissa Louise (colorist), Ariana Maher (letterer), Andrea Shea (Editor)
Nubia, aka Wonder Woman, has a confession for her lover Io about the loss of the sword. She wasn’t wrong in telling Io that it was broken during a fight; it wasn’t the fight against an epic beast as Io believed.
Stephanie Williams nails the comedic awkwardness of having to come clean as Nubia tells Io the true story about what really happened to her sword. Williams lends a charming vibe to Nubia’s story as to how she lost the sword, which is enhanced by the visuals. In the present, Meghan Hetrick’s pencils have a crispness to it and there’s a dynamism to how their characters move. Marissa Louise and Ariana Maher add a retro-themed feel to the flashbacks, which fits with the story Williams is telling.
There’s a heartfelt emotion to the story being told here, especially since it highlights Nubia’s heroism. “Confessions” may not be a story for a reader like me, I do feel that the story’s theme, i.e., using your power to help the marginalised no matter the situation, is something a lot of queer people, such as myself, can relate to. We find ourselves wishing that we had the power to not only save ourselves, but to also help other queer people as well by letting them know that they can let go and embrace who they are.
By Bobby Varghese Vinu
“Think of Me”- Ro Stein and Ted Brandt (Writers and Artists), Frank Cvetkovic (Letterer), Andrea Shea (Editor)
Connor Hawke writes a letter to his mother, as he comes to grips with his asexuality and what that means for him as a person.
This story is short, and for most of it there’s no dialogue besides the caption boxes representing Connor’s letter. This is due to Connor putting in earplugs to fight the Music Meister, a clever metaphor from Stein & Brandt for Connor’s sexuality, as Connor explains in his letter. They draw a really expressive Connor, helping to ensure that how he’s feeling comes across despite the lack of dialogue. Cvetkovic does a great job here too, capitalizing key parts of the letter to make it all flow better without breaking your flow as you read.
Asexuality is quiet. It sort of sneaks up on you, honestly. Puberty happens, and you think some things are supposed to change… and then they don’t, really. It kind of leaves you wondering for a while, exactly what you are, especially in the absence of mainstream recognition.
I remember cautiously explaining to my mom that maybe I wasn’t really interested in anybody, only for her to say that there weren’t really any people like that. Not out of malice; simply out of ignorance. It’s exhausting to explain your experiences, only for people to not believe or dismiss you, especially when asexual people make up around 1% of the world’s population. So I can understand Connor spending so much time and energy on this letter, getting his words right.
It can be hard to vocalize sometimes, though, because asexuality is complex. How one person experiences it often is completely different from another. Some ace people still feel romantic feelings, as Connor expresses here, yet some don’t. This story manages to do a pretty great job of covering many of the major points of asexuality in only eight pages, balancing this explanation with Connor fighting the Music Meister. It manages to capture Connor’s specific experience of asexuality, conveying it to a wider audience while not feeling overly preachy. Great work by the entire team.
By Simon Zuccherato.
“Up at Bat”- Jadzia Axelrod (Writer), Lynne Yoshi (Artist), Tamra Bonvillain (Colorist) and Ariana Maher (Letterer), Andrea Shea (Editor)
Alysia Yeoh is struggling to understand why she should keep fighting. Every day is the same. Fighting the same transphobes, asking too many times for the same rights, protesting about the same issues. She’s been deep in this fight for too long already and nothing seems to change. But she may find a new perspective once Batgirl asks for her help against Killer Moth.
Alysia is introduced perfectly in “Up At Bat,” Jadzia Axelrod writes the character with care, affection, and precision, helping even new readers get to know her just by the first page. Lynne Yoshii completes this by conveying her internal struggles with moments of introspection, and her affinity to action with great depictions of speed and heaviness, which are complemented by the amazing, fun lettering from Ariana Maher, who further sets the story’s tone. The ever-changing but always recognizable Gotham we all love feels perfect for this story with beautiful colors by Tamra Bonvillain, that pop out of every page and fills it with personality and emotion.
“Up at Bat” understands the struggles of being a trans person, but also how great it is. One of the first things I thought when I started questioning the gender I was assigned was ‘’I can’t deal with this right now’’. Even then, I had to face bigoted people around me, acquaintances and strangers alike, and I knew that if I came out as trans, I’d have to deal with new, different issues. It’s been just a year and a half since I actually did so, still with so many changes to come, and yet, I feel like I can understand what Alysia means about fighting the same battles and seeing no change. It’s hard and enraging seeing how many setbacks there are due to transphobia. But I’ve also seen what we can do, and the changes that I’ve made in this time that make me feel more like myself than ever before make it feel worth fighting for. Same as shown in “Up At Bat”, I believe it is possible to win our fights, make things better, and go on to other fights. Besides, it is really great to put transphobes in their place. I recommend it as much as this story.
By Gabrielle Cazeaux.
“The Gumshoe in Green” – Tini Howard (Writer), Evan Cagle (Artist), Lucas Gattoni (Letterer), and Jessica Chen (Editor)
Joe Mullein, Far Sector’s resident Green Lantern, is having a particularly irksome day at the office. A beautiful stranger with an air of danger is having marital problems, and although this is an issue below Joe’s usual paygrade, she finds herself taking the job anyways.
Tini Howards finds Joe’s voice off the bat, and her dialogue is atmospheric and rich. The perfect balance of gumshoe detective jargon and fun sci-fi tropes thrive with Evan Cagles’ gorgeous and slightly gritty visuals. A grayscale palette feels very Noir, but flashes of green remind me I’m on a different planet. The care applied to text layouts and font designs really put a big bow on the overall visual feel and flow of the story.
The sci-fi setting makes for a particularly quirky rendition of “We saw you from across the space cantina and really dig your vibes.” Joe is able to react in a way that I am sure will be incredibly satisfying for many Bisexual readers. My personal relationship with the “Unicorn” stereotype is…complicated, and I believe Joe’s is too. Although the invitation is rejected, I don’t feel there’s a disdain towards people who are looking to explore additional partners within their own relationship. Joe’s issue was that they were engaging in a way that stereotyped her identity. A nearly too relatable moment for myself and I’m sure many others’ on the bi/pan spectrum. We may not have a lantern ring but we can live vicariously through Joe and perhaps feel a little bolder in sticking up for ourselves, should the need arise.
By Bree King.
“Public Displays of Electromagnetism” – Greg Lockhard (Writer), Giulio Macaione (Artist), Aditya Bidikar (Letterer), and Andrea Shea (Editor)
The Ray is quite confident as a member of the Justice League of America, but figuring out his place in a romantic relationship is proving to be a bit more challenging. Sometimes all you need is a super-villain face off and some friendly advice to switch up your perspective!
Lockhard excels at establishing a work-place dynamic in which everyone is also clearly friends, as any reader would expect to see from a JL comic. Ray’s complex interior thoughts are complimented well by Macaione’s expressive artwork, who expertly utilizes some Shoujo-manga elements to make a comic that oozes romance in-between the fun action sequences! The smooth lettering by Bidikar is the icing on the cake.
Many LGBTQ+ can (unfortunately) relate to Ray’s strained relationship with his family and by extension, certain types of affection as a whole. It’s not uncommon for people to internalize these kinds of things, and have it spill over into other relationships. Ray has this exact problem, when is initially uncomfortable with PDA from someone he loves in front of people he trusts. The conclusion of the story frames this as a totally sympathetic reaction that ultimately is about communication with your partner and learning to go at your own pace.
By Bree King.
“Special Delivery” – Travis G. Moore (Writer and Artist), Enrica Eren Angiolini (Colorist), Ariana Maher (Letterer), Michael McCalister (Editor)
Tim Drake, who has gotten comfortable going back to being Robin, is in a hurry to deliver a package when he sees two villains robbing a jewel store and decides to stop them. The adventure is overlaid with Tim’s words about how he developed his feelings for Bernard after their reunion.
Travis G. Moore’s approach to the story is very much like Meghan Fitzmartin’s in the recent Tim Drake stories. The action is more of a background texture to important words of self-discovery. It is a very emotional tale, beautifully illustrated by Moore, who is well known for drawing the cutest men in comics.
The setting is light-hearted, full of bright colors and fits perfectly into the current trend of positive queer stories, from which the breakout series Heartstopper is part of. Although I am ecstatic seeing one of my favorite characters ever being portrayed as a queer person, my first thoughts are about the queer kids and teenagers who will grow up feeling represented. I never had anything like this when I was younger and everything I read or watched was painted with the heterosexual paradigm. That has consequences. If you can´t see yourself reflected anywhere around you, you can´t help it but feel like an outsider. And that is the least bad problem of them all. With this initiative by DC Comics, I’m sure young queer reader will have more possibilities of having a healthier life.
By Queerly Nerd.
“The Hunt” – By Dani Fernandez (Writer), Zoe Thorogood (Artist), Jeremy Lawson (Colorist), Jeremy Lawson (Letterer), Jessica Chen (Editor)
I could not wait to talk about this short story featuring my favourite DC girls. We all know they’ve had a tough time as of late due to conflicts between their morals and being at different parts of their life. However, this story comes full circle and gives us a definitive answer at the end which is: these two will love each other for life.
We get some gorgeous panels of the pair in this fluorescent violet hue, perfect fitting if you ask me. The background compliments each panel really well. We even get a glorious ivy bondage panel which has little details that pull it all together into a masterpiece. The setting is a true fairytale brought to life with a drop of sinister to keep you on edge.
It’s all fun and sexual tension until the girls get separted causing them to run into different versions of themselves who they each thought was the other in a costume change. The other versions of each character speak words of horror, claiming they don’t love the person and pinching at insecurities they each have. It’s crushing to watch their faces fall as they start to believe these horrendous words about their deepest fears.
It also highlights both girls are still insecure within themselves and this relationship, I’m sure we’ve all doubted ourselves at some point. Regardless of flaws, one thing they’re both certain on is their love for each other. They each save the day by professing love to their evil spouse, breaking whatever wicked hold this fairytale forest had over them. Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of Harley and Ivy’s happy ever after.
“Are You Ready for This?” – Danny Lore and Ivan Cohen (writers), Brittney Williams (artist), Enrica Eren Angiolini (colorist), and Ariana Maher (Letterist), Michael McCalister (Editor)
Jess Chambers, a. k. a. Kid Quick is getting ready to attend a “Super Heros of Pride” parade when she notices someone is planning to steal Dr Midnight goggles. When they realize that they might be trying to handle more than they are able, it’s time for Jess to really ask themself: am I ready for this?
I’m so glad to see Danny Lore once again writing everyone’s favorite non binary speedster. Ivan Chone and Lore do a great job capturing Jess’ energetic and funny vibes, even in their moments of doubt. Brittney Williams’ art combined with Erica Eren Angiolini’s colors and Ariana Maher letters make for a really dynamic story full of everything a good speedster comic needs.
I really appreciated the themes of not being sure if you are ready to be yourself and the way family and friends really can help you with your journey. Unlike Jess, who discovered their identity when they were at least a teenager, I didn’t come to terms with my identity as a non binary person until I was in my 20s. Coming to terms can be extremely difficult, like being a superhero, coming out brings perks, but it also brings certain responsibilities, which make being yourself a bit overwhelming at times, but everything becomes a lot easier when others show their support. Just like Jess gets help from the rest of the Teen Justice team to fight the bad guys, there are always people willing to support us in our journey and help us be ready to be happy as ourselves. I’m glad we are getting stories that convey this message in such a fun way.
By Cass Argo.
“Finding Batman” – Kevin Conroy (Writer), J. Bone (Artist), Aditya Bidikar (Letterer), Jessica Chen (Editor), and Arianna Turtrurro (Adaptation Editor).
Kevin Conroy opens up to discuss his family life, career, and challenges he faced, including homophobia in the industry and losing friends to AIDS, that led to his being cast as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman: The Animated Series. Kevin honestly confronts his experiences and how he was able to relate to the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Conroy’s writing is raw and powerful, eschewing downplaying any painful truths in his life. Conroy cuts to the heart of his experiences, the moments that both hurt him and shaped him. “Finding Batman” sticks to a straightforward panel layout, typical of other current autobiographical comics, but J. Bone is able to pack so many details in each panel. The relevant scenes of Conroy’s life are depicted with realism and emotion. Rendered in blues and whites that feel as though you truly are walking through another’s memories. I’m not sure what I can say about Aditya Bidikar’s lettering that hasn’t already been said, but it’s remarkable the comic is never bogged down and the lettering is never in the way of the art.
“Finding Batman ” is preceded by an advisory to readers to let them know that although the DC Pride issue is celebratory in nature, Pride is a beautiful event, not despite the dark times but because of the strength found on the other side of them. I thought that was a wonderful sentiment and can certainly see many individuals relating to that. Kevin Conroy’s personal story is one that I did not know and his connection to the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman is so much more meaningful and deeper than the voices he used. There are parts of Conroy’s story that are difficult to read, the homophobia in the acting industry, the use of the f-slur by a colleague and a producer, feeling on his own without support from his family at times, but all necessary to understand Conroy and how he related to and approached his portrayal of Batman. The first episode of Batman: The Animated Series aired 30 years ago in September of 1992. With that in mind, “Finding Batman” is more than a memoir, more than a snapshot of one indivdual’s experience, it acts as both an example of progress made for the LGBTQIA+ community and a warning for the fights that still lie ahead in light of the passage of Florida House Bill 1557, the ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill”, and similar legislation appearing in other states. I am reminded of the below quote from Batman: The Animated Series episode “I Am the Night”:
Batman: Sometimes, old friend, I wonder if I’m really doing any good out there.
Alfred: How can you doubt it? The lives you’ve saved, the criminals you’ve brought to justice–
Batman: I’ve put out a few fires, yes. Won a few battles. But the war goes on, Alfred. On and on…
Yes, unfortunately, the war rages on, but I’m glad that Kevin Conroy is sharing his story, his belief when he was younger it was “Better to wear a mask, I thought” that will not only resonate with members of the LGBTQIA+ community but inspire others to stand up and join the fight.
By Jimmy Gaspero.
Although our team did not have the resources to write an in-depth entry, we truly enjoyed the Jackson Hyde story from Alyssa Wong, W. Scott Forbes, and Ariana Maher; and the Batwoman story from Stephanie Phillips, Samantha Dodge, Marissa Louise, and Lucas Gattoni; and encourage all to read them.
If you’re interested in reading more about DC Pride, check out our coverage on the 2021 anthology.