DC Pride 2022 #1: DC Comics Review

Jun 9, 2022

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The cover to this issue promises “More Pride than ever before!” and I think it’s safe to say it delivers on that. Last year’s inaugural DC Pride issue was great, but I thought this was a beautiful and gorgeously prideful step up in all the best ways!

Special mention before we kick off to Nicole Maines’ beautiful introduction. It was a very poignant and well-chosen way to start off this great anthology. Now, onto the stories themselves below!

Super Pride

The first story was admittedly my least favorite in the whole anthology. Namely due to it’s extremely odd and off-putting characterization of Damian by Devin Grayson, especially when kicking off the whole book.

That’s not to say it didn’t have some cute moments, but that moment of Damian really brings down this first story and the whole general tone of it. All that said, I loved the artwork by Nick Robles and Triona Farrell on coloring. It was bright, vibrant and just overall so pretty to look at and soak in. Not forgetting Aditya Bidikar, who’s always solid and great to see on lettering.

Confessions

Moving on from that, the second story featured Nubia with her partner Io. I haven’t read any of the recent titles with the Amazons, so I don’t have any experience with those characters. That said, I enjoyed it. It was a light, fun, comedic read with some solid artwork.

Think Of Me

Next up, we have Connor Hawke’s story revealing him as asexual. Along with a few other stories in here, this was one of the highlights of this year’s anthology. It was just really well done, and yet another reminder that I need to check out Crowded over at Image by the same duo, Ro Stein and Ted Brandt.

It was fun, dynamic and just generally heartfelt to read through. From the use of the metaphor within the story to the way the letterer Frank Cvetkovic displays the letter Connor is writing throughout, to the interaction with Damian at the end. Hope we get some more moments of their dynamic over the last few issues of Robin to come.

Up at Bat

Another highlight of this book for me was the Alysia Yeoh story. If you read Galaxy: The Prettiest Star from a few weeks ago (and you should), this was the same writer. I’d seen this promoted on Twitter by the creators and comic friends, so it was one of the stories I was most looking forward to. It did not disappoint!

I haven’t actually ever read the New 52 Batgirl run she originally comes from, but after this story, I really hope we get to see more of her. The art by Lynne Yoshii was so animated and dynamic — exactly the kind of style I always love. Then colored by the fantastic Tamra Bonvillain, it’s always a joy to soak in the gorgeous pages she colors.

I know I keep using the word fun, but some of these stories are so energetic in the best way. They just emanate joy and pride in the way you would want and expect from something like this.

A World Kept Just For Me

Like the Tim Drake and Bernard story I’ll talk about later on, I thought this was really sweet. As with a lot of superheroes, Jackson Hyde, the Aquaman, might not seem like the most relatable character. On the surface that is, no pun intended.

But I think that’s part of what makes these celebration anthologies — Pride especially, personally — so special to me.

It allows for those quieter, more emotional slice of life moments. Jackson meets his new boyfriend’s (well, “We haven’t really put a label on it, but–” he says at one point) family, and yeah, sure, it’s underwater. But that’s such a human experience transposed into this fantastical comic book world.

It’s just moments in stories like this where the characters feel that much more real and relatable to me.

That is just emphasized even more in the second half of this story.

“Are you taking me to the famous Amnesty Bay?”

“Uh… not exactly.”

The wholesomeness of the first half of the story just makes the emotional vulnerability of Jackson in the second half all the more powerful. I’ve always thought he was such an interesting character (with a great design, may I add), but this just made me like him even more. Grounding a character, showing them in day-to-day scenarios as well as fantastical ones, is an almost guaranteed way to get me to love them. No matter how powerful they are, honestly.

I apologize to W. Scott Forbes for only just mentioning the artwork, but I thought it was absolutely perfect for the story. It felt so lush, with a soft, vibrant and almost ethereal style to the coloring. Which when showing water worked so well.

Definitely one of my favorites in the book. Really appreciated the work of Alyssa Wong on writing, Forbes as already mentioned on art and Ariana Maher on lettering. Anyway, enough about this story, there’s several more to cover!

The Gumshoe In Green

Read Far Sector if you haven’t already. I heard so many good things about it as it was coming out, so I was so glad I finally checked it out earlier in the year. Those people I heard from are right, it’s so damn good! Jo is just such an awesome character, her design feels so fresh and unique and I just generally love how new and interesting she is.

The previous one was very relationship-focused, but this felt more like a neat Far Sector reprisal. Jo’s sexuality and pride is obviously very prominent but not the main focus of the story. Like having read the book, I loved seeing what it was like after the events of that series. Additionally, the art was in black and white like an old noir film, with green as mostly the only color. That was just a really great way to recreate that detective feel of the original book.

Another enjoyable story in this wonderful anthology. Great work by Tini Howard on writing, Evan Cagle on art and Lucas Gattoni on lettering.

Really hope we get to see lots more Jo in the future!

Public Display of Electromagnetism

I don’t really have much to say about this one, as a bit like with Nubia I don’t have any experience with The Ray. Because of that I didn’t have particularly strong feelings either way about it like some of the others, but for what it was I enjoyed it.

The art was nice, I liked the characters and the plot (as much plot as you can have in eight pages). I thought it was a good solid Pride story, with a cute and meaningful ending, which is always nice to see.

Good solid work by Greg Lockard on writing, Giulio Macaione on art and Aditya Bidikar on lettering.

Bat’s in the Cradle

It turns out this was the shortest story in the whole book (I actually went back and checked after realized it was only four pages because I was curious. I guess I hadn’t really thought about it reading through the first time.) A bit like with the previous one, I haven’t had much experience with Kate so didn’t think too much of it either way.

That said, I enjoyed her in the Rebirth run of Detective Comics written by James Tynion IV, with Barrows and Martinez-Bueno on art among others. Also just generally I always think her costume looks awesome. Something about the red just really stand out to me, it looks so good.

I’ve been loving Stephanie Phillips and Riley Rossmo’s Harley Quinn, so it was fun to see Phillips writing some Batwoman, especially considering she’s actually been in the recent issues of that book.  

Finally just generally enjoyed how dynamic the artwork and how rich the reds were by Samantha Dodge and Marissa Louise, with some good solid lettering by Lucas Gattoni!

Special Delivery

I was incredibly happy last year when Tim Drake came out as bisexual. The amount of hints and talk about him “figuring out his identity” in that story alone, I know there was some nervousness it was all just a queerbait. But I was so, so glad it wasn’t.

That whole storyline was written really well. The way it showed off Tim struggling with his identity, his resurfaced feelings for his old friend, with a nice fun superhero plotline on top of all of that.

Of course this isn’t a review of that story. My point being I thought this one brilliantly carried over all those thoughts, themes and ideas discussed. Like I talked about with Jackson, it might be seemingly difficult to relate to the superhero “Robin.” But it’s about more than just Robin. Tim’s monologue to Bernard, told through narration, felt so emotionally rich and real to me. Which just brought me so much joy.

“…It’s been the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Wait, no, that’s… that’s understating it. It’s been more just fun. So much more. It’s been joyful. Enlightening. Transformative. Even painful at times. Because finding your true identity always can be. Painful and scary.”

It’s lines like that from Tim in the story that have stuck with me ever since I read them. Figuring out yourself is not an easy thing. One thing is for sure, there’s going to be a lot of emotions involved. A lot. And it’s lines like that, that I feel just get it perfectly.

It would have been nice to have seen more of Tim and Bernard since Tim first came out, but I just have to commend Travis G. Moore for both writing and drawing this. Not forgetting Enrica Eren Angiolini on colors and Ariana Maher on letters. Fantastic work all round.

Besides “Finding Batman,” which I’ll talk about in a bit, this was easily my favorite story in the whole anthology. Just had such an impact on me, similar to how “A World Kept Just For Me” did.

Tim’s whole journey, especially as showcased here, has just felt so real. Like all representation should. Representation always matters, and that’s as clear as ever throughout this book.

The Hunt

As with a few other stories in this anthology, I don’t have much to say about this one.

I loved the artwork by Zoe Thorogood and coloring by Jeremy Lawson. I had heard of Thorogood before but hadn’t read anything with her art until the recently concluded Rain from Image. Well worth a read if you haven’t already. Something about her art style I just love. It always feels so rough, grounded and just generally unique, which can be really refreshing.

I thought overall this was great, written well by Dani Fernandez, and I liked the ideas used. I thought they were neat in how it explored the characters and the themes. Another story in here with lettering by Bidikar which was awesome to see, easily one of the best letterers in comics today. Brilliant work every time!

Another great entry.

Are You Ready For This?

Some of the stories here have been quieter and more emotionally focused. Others have been very action focused. Some have had elements of both those things. But this story was definitely on the action side, and I thought it was a lot of fun for that.

They haven’t showed up a whole lot, but from when they have, Kid Quick has become one of my absolute favourite new characters. I’m a sucker for an awesome speedster, so that definitely helps. Their design is awesome, and they always seem like such an entertaining character, so it was great to see them get the spotlight here.

This also served as a somewhat prelude to Multiversity: Teen Justice #1 that also came out this week, which was neat. That was also a lot of fun and definitely worth picking up if you didn’t! The characters are just so new, their designs are so interesting and cool to look at, and I can’t wait to read more of them.

Really entertaining work by the whole team of Lore, Cohen, Williams, Angiolini and Maher!

Finding Batman

As I’ve gone through, I’ve made clear my favorites out of the stories in this anthology. But by far, this was the best one. When I heard there was going to be a story by the Kevin Conroy in here, I had no idea what to expect. But like most people, I imagine, I was incredibly intrigued to see what it was going to be.

In no way do I want to discredit the very real and important impact fictional characters can have, I mean especially after all I’ve said in this review alone. But knowing this was auto-biographical, how quite literally real it was, made it that much rawer to read.

As the advisory by group editor Chris Conroy (no relation, apparently) preceding the story states, this is not an easy read. That’s only emphasized by the art style and lack of colors used. Mostly black and white, but with a very light and softer blue overtone on the whole thing. Which might seem jarring in an otherwise bright and rainbow filled book, but when you read the story, you realize it’s appropriate. Anything else, in my opinion, would take away from it and undercut of the seriousness of the experiences being narrated.

I’ve been reading comics for years now, and there’s only been a few times a story has left me speechless. This was one of those times. There’s such a viscerally painful and heart-breaking undertone throughout this whole story, but then it all comes to a head with those last two pages. That last page in particular, and how it was done, just no words. It just sticks in your mind, leaving an impact that won’t go away very soon.

As the advisory says, “LGBTQIA+ people know that Pride is a beautiful event not despite the dark times in our personal histories, but because of them — because of the strength we found on the other side of those moments.” That’s perfectly demonstrated in the contrast between some of the other stories in this anthology and this final one. It’s an incredibly powerful and impactful way to close out this fantastic and celebratory book full of pride.

Knowing that, while we can and should celebrate the present, it’s also extremely important not to forget the past. While equally thinking about how far we’ve still got to go in places. Maybe it sounds dramatic but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t starting to tear up finishing off the review of this story.

Phenomenal work by J. Bone and Aditya Bidikar on bringing Conroy’s narration to life through their artwork and lettering that just suited it so well. And just a final thank you again for the legendary Kevin Conroy for telling his story and sharing his experiences leading up to the role so many people know him for.

Final Thoughts

Anthologies can be a tricky thing to get right. Quite often there’s maybe a few stories you liked or loved, and some others you weren’t into or didn’t care for. I’ve read quite a few of these now, from both Marvel and DC, and this feels like one of the first where it feels like almost every story hits. Or at least, the stories I wasn’t into as much, or had characters I didn’t really know, there were still parts of them I really liked.

So in my opinion, DC Pride #1 2022 is a beautiful, fantastic and all round absolutely brilliant celebration of some of the amazing and wonderful LGBTQIA+ characters and creators DC has! A book well worth the $10 cover price and definitely worth picking up.

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