Superheroes have often been used as vehicles for stories about prejudice or injustice, however when featured in the universes of the Big Two there is often a sense of token-ism as publishers look to appear to offer diversity but without going far enough. Fortunately Joe Glass’s The Pride is looking to turn that on it’s head by creating a team entirely made up of LGBT superheroes who are reacting against that tokenist attitude to prove that diversity is not a hindrance, it is actually rather heroic!
Publisher: Queer Comix
Writer: Joe Glass
Artist: Gavin Mitchell, Mark Ellerby, Cory Smith, Joshua Faith, Dan Harris, Jack Laurence, Hector Barros, Jacopo Camagni, Kendall Goode, Maxime Garbarini, Joe Glass, Jack Davies, Chris Wildgoose (Art) Mike Stock (Letters) Kris Carter, Kirsty Swan (Colors)
Price: £1.49 per issue from ComiXology
Our rating: [star rating=”4.5″]
Tired of being misrepresented or held back because of their sexuality, Fab Man (Tomorrow’s Fabulous Man, Today) assembles The Pride, a group of misfit LGBT superheroes who need to come together, not only to prove the world is wrong in their narrow-minded attitudes, but also to combat the despicable Reverend – a bible bashing bigot bent on world domination!.
Inevitably with a superhero team book, this means clashing egos with tons of angst, and Glass does a great job of giving the formation of The Pride a slow build across these first 6 issues. Whereas the temptation would be to rush into a big battle, he prefers to develop the character of his heroes as they come together which makes for a much more engaging and entertaining read. (And something which feels fresh for a superhero book, despite being one of the oldest tricks in the book!)
With characters like Fab Man, The Bear, Muscle Mary and The Reverend, Glass appears to use fairly broad strokes to tell his story, picking various LGBT cliches and stereotypes to fill up his roster. It may seem at odds with the books progressive message to rely on such stereotypes, but with this being a superhero tale, larger-than-life characters is what the genre is all about and thanks to the diversity of the characters involved and some smart writing from Glass they do not feel misrepresented. Actually, by combining these cliches and tropes into one team, Glass creates a versatile group of characters with which he can tell his stories, giving them their own issues that help give the stories subtlety and nuance in between the bombast. For example, one character is revealed to be HIV positive and is handled in a brilliant and informative way which allows the team members to be both wary and also ultimately accepting without it feeling patronising. The same is true when relationships begin to form between team mates and you get to see the advantage of allowing the team time to develop without them having to spout their dialogue in the middle of a pitched battle.
Glass also explores the characters various origins using short stories at the back of each issue, which again helps to develop the individuals without losing the main thread of the story. And by using different artists feels like a worthwhile bonus rather than DC Comics tendency to tack a story on to the end of an issue to bulk it out!
Alongside Glass’ strong story-telling The Pride looks fantastic, in particular the covers of #1 and #6 from Kris Anka which looks as good as any Big Two offering – and have an almost Alex Ross quality to them, which is high praise indeed. The insides of the first two issues feature main story artwork from Gavin Mitchell which, as we saw in How To Be A Superhero, means a classic Marvel style reminiscent of Mark Bagley that really helps give the early issues a strong start and feel like they are on a par with a book from a mainstream publisher. After that though, The Pride suffers a bit from the ‘curse of the indie book artist’ as it flits from one to the next. Despite seeing some really great talents like Druid Investigates Dan Harris and Porcelain’s Chris Wildgoose filling in the pages, it gives the final issues a more scattergun approach which takes away a bit from the slickness and consistency that it would have had if Mitchell (or only a couple of artists) had done the whole thing.
Thanks to high quality writing and strong visuals, The Pride manages to balance progressive and intelligent story-telling with classic superhero antics to create a book that is informative without being preachy and intelligent without being too introspective. But most importantly, The Pride is damn good fun, and a really great superhero book that deserves to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those from mainstream publishers in every sense!