THIS WEEK: DC Pride returns with an oversized celebration of LGBTQ+ characters and creators.

Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.

DC Pride 2024

DC Pride 2024 #1

Writers: Al Ewing, Ngozi Ukazu, Gretchen Felker-Martin, Jamila Rowser, Jarrett Williams, Nicole Maines, Calvin Kasulke, Melissa Marr, and Phil Jimenez
Artists: Stephen Byrne, Ngozi Ukazu, Claire Roe, ONeillJones, D.J. Kirkland, Jordan Gibson, Len Gogou, Jenn St-Onge, and Giulio Macaione
Colorists: Triona Farrell, Marissa Louise, and Jeremy Lawson
Letterers: Aditya Bidikar, Lucas Gattoni, Jodie Troutman, Ariana Maher, Morgan Martinez & AndWorld Design, and Frank Cvetkovic
Pinups: Robin “Zombie” Higginbottom, Chloe Brailsford, Ego Rodriguez, Helen Mask, Valentine Smith, and Bailie Rosenlund
Cover: Kevin Wada

For the last few years, each of the big two mainstream superhero publishers have released an annual DC Pride special, commemorating Pride month, which is celebrated every June. Since the first issue in 2021, DC has put the work in to make these specials, uh, special, not only recruiting top tier talent for the main issue, but making sure LGBTQ+ creators have work throughout the rest of the year as well. 

This year’s edition is no exception, with a bevy of shorts and pinups featuring creators old and new tackling some of the biggest characters DC has to offer. Al EwingStephen Byrne, and Aditya Bidikar lead off the issue with an enemies-to-lovers story for Starman (Mikaal Tomas) and Komak. It’s a sweet piece for Ewing’s DC debut, featuring his patented deep-diving for continuity alongside Byrne’s excellent use of colors and Bidikar’s gliding letters for a hot and heavy story that somehow feels like an episode of Miami Vice. 

There’s a Poison Ivy and Janet from HR story by Gretchen Felker-MartinClaire RoeTriona Farrell, and Bidikar that satirizes the way modern politicians and pundits try to portray queer identity as a threat. It’s heavy-handed but effective, making it clear how ridiculous self-serving ideologues sound when they spread nonsense about people simply trying to live their lives (while also showing off the still developing relationship between Pam and Jan). Roe and Farrell are a strong pairing, as Roe’s hyper-detailed line work feels uncomplicated with Farrell’s distinct palette.

Of course, there are also a number of previews and teases for upcoming stories, with a great look at Ngozi Ukazu’s take on the Fourth World (coming in BARDA this summer), a sneak peek at The Strange Case of Harleen and Harley, and setup for future Dreamer and Circuit Breaker stories on the way. Each feels like it’s earned a spot in the issue, as opposed to filler to extend the page count. 

This entire issue was solid from front to back, but the stand-out story for me was ‘Spaces’ by Phil JimenezGiulio Macaione, and Frank Cvetkovic. The story follows Jimenez throughout his life, from growing up as a gay kid in the closeted world of the 70s to eventually coming out and working for DC in the 90s. He also explains the concept of paracosms, this idea that we as children invent magical worlds to escape into, and how comics creators are able to expand on those worlds and make them tangible for kids.

For Jimenez, this meant a deep love for Paradise Island (pre-Crisis Themyscira), which eventually became a professional drive to contribute to that mythology and make it his own. It’s a heartfelt way for him to express his admiration for both the DC creators that came before him and gave him and so many other queer kids places to feel seen.

Macaione depicts all of this in lush spreads that utilize only the primary colors to great effect. Pages feel ripped out of a coloring book in the best way, with loose, expressive figures placed amidst detailed backgrounds that feel like you could just fall into them. Cvetkovic’s letters tie everything together, working within the art to create the perfect flow from panel to panel. It’s a phenomenal story that perfectly closes out the issue.

Verdict: BUY. DC has knocked it out of the park four years running. 

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