DKN Spotlight Review: DC Pride 2023

“DC Pride 2023”
Writers: Grant Morrison, Leah Williams, Nadia Shammas, A.L. Kaplan, Josh Trujillo, Jeremy Holt, Mildred Louis, Rex Ogle, Christopher Cantwell, Nicole Maines
Artists: Hayden Sherman, Paulina Ganucheau, Bruka Jones, Don Aguillo, Andrew Drilon, Stephen Sadowski, Skylar Partridge, Rye Hickman
Color Artists: Marissa Louise, Tamra B0nvillain, Enrica Eren Angiolini, Dearbhla Kelly, Bex Glendiing
Letterers: Aditya Bidikar, Frank Cvetkovic, Lucas Gattoni, Ariana Maher, Morgan Martinez, Rusty Gladd
Review by Adam Ray

DC Pride 2023 has landed. June is here and it’s time to celebrate all the things that keep fans queer and proud. Very few companies take pride as seriously as DC. They put considerable effort into this mega issue that shows off just how diverse the DC Universe is.

DC Pride 2023

Before reading this year’s edition, I dusted off 2022’s DC Pride. With the tragic loss of Kevin Conroy a few short months after he got to tell his very raw, painful, and candid story about being a gay actor in 80s Hollywood last year, the importance of a publication like this becomes clear. Fortunately, this edition of DC Pride is also life-affirming and cheerful.

Love’s Lightning Heart

The story presented here is deeply cosmic and all across the multiverse. Grant Morrison is at their best, bringing us a staccato and thoughtful story tied together with a cosmic queer coupling. The artwork in this particular chapter also meets this cosmic brief and makes me feel as though they’ve poured LSD into my eyes.

“Love’s Lightning Heart” by Grant Morrison, Hayden Sherman, Marissa Louise and Aditya Bidikar:

And Baby Makes Three

Of course Harley and Ivy, DC’s Greatest Sappho’s would take a vacation on Dinosaur Island.

The message that Ivy imparts to Crush is deep and insightful, some advice that the straights and every color of queer needs to learn at one time or another when looking for love. We get to see a touching and vulnerable side of Crush that ought to be shown more, but then again more Crush is generally good because that also helps make Lobo a more redeemable character.

The colorful and pop art style is deeply welcome for a story about hope and learning, and I would have been happy if this tale had taken up an entire special of its own.

“And Baby Makes Three” by Leah Williams, Paulina Ganucheau and Frank Cvetkovic:

Hey, Stranger

In the DC world, many may imagine that it’s all constant battles against baddies, and daring super heroics. Sometimes though, it could simply be a personal and intimate exchange between two heroes, in this case Robin (Tim Drake) and Green Arrow (Connor Hawke) desperately trying to understand their own queer hearts. It’s a cathartic and personal moment for anyone coming out, and I deeply relate to this story.

We’re also treated to wonderful little artistic treats in to help lighten the tone of their conversation. Little robins chirping on the railing and pride colored shipping containers are hidden away, to delight us for looking a little more closely at this story.

“Hey, Stranger” by Nadia Shammas, Bruka Jones, Tamra Bonvillain and Frank Cvetkovic

Subspace Transmission

This title is very clever. It’s been a personal trans-mission of mine to understand my own gender identity, just like Circuit Breaker. Often we need a powerful, older person with the relevant experience to scoop us up and give understanding, just how this other earth’s Flash scooped them up and explained the Speed Force. That feeling of being unsure about letting that power out is so close to how it feels keeping a truth about yourself inside.

“Subspace Transmission” by A.L. Kaplan and Aditya Bidikar:

Anniversary

The painted, atmospheric art in this story is reminiscent, for me, of the work of comics’ legend Alex Ross.

The message of queer hope may often be something that people don’t want to hear, and this story shows just how unprepared certain members of the vocal minority can be. It’s dangerous but essential to put such strong positive messages out for all the world to see, because that makes it normal in most people’s eyes, which it should be. This super team does it here, and DC does it with specials like this and their diverse team of characters.

“Anniversary” by Josh Trujillo, Don Aguillo and Lucas Gattoni

Lost & Found

I had never heard of Xanthe before this story, and now I’m deeply fascinated. The power of being able to conjure or transmute things into existence is something I’ve always been interested in. The artwork helps get the sudden but strong change in her constructs.

The shared appreciation between the characters is a welcome one, but their very queer sensibilities don’t get in the way of a grand, heroic story. DC Pride gives us everything from deep introspection to fun adventure.

“Lost & Found” by Jeremy Holt, Andrew Drilon and Lucas Gattoni:

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

The most unlikely battles can bring anyone together, as we see with Nubia and Io training, but also standing together as a wholesome couple. This is what representation should be. So clearly effortless that we don’t question a same sex couple dominating a panel.

The charming, pop art style somehow fits how cosmic and out there the training situation is. Lovely.

“Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” by Mildred Louis and Ariana Maher:

The Dance

I’m reminded of the quote by Alan Watts. “The whole point of dancing is the dance. Life is inherently playful.” There’s activity and movement in life, and it’s shown so well in this story. It’s also funny because the term dance has a double meaning.

The heroic battle is cinematic and the level of detail in every scene really adds to the movement and action they’re going through.

“The Dance” by Rex Ogle, Stephen Sadowski, Enrica Eren Angiolini and Ariana Maher:

My Best Bet

Some of my favourite characters in DC are bi-sexual and two are represented in this story. John Constantine challenging the new Superman in the world of the dreaming is honestly solid fan service for me, as I’m deeply into those stories.

The colour palette in the backgrounds are what draw me in and really keep the story feeling magical and cosmic.

“My Best Bet” by Christopher Cantwell, Skylar Patridge, Dearbhla Kelly and Morgan Martinez:

 

Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story

We get the greatest promo for an upcoming Dreamer story in this final chapter of DC Pride 2023. So much is left to mystery and we have much to look forward to. The color palette is so true to the character who is all the more real due to the wonderful Nicole Maines, who portrays her on screen, and has helped bring her comics version to life, so brilliantly.

“Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story” by Nicole Maines, Rye Hickman, Bex Glendining and Rusty Gladd:

Conclusion

Though my focus has been on the stories in this special issue, the tribute to Rachel Pollack was both welcome and needed. She was a visionary who put great effort into countless stories. Some of the industry’s greatest have shared some heartfelt memories of her. She will be missed.

DC Pride 2023 has been a lighthearted and hopeful look at the queer side of the DC universe giving all of us the optimistic take that the world both needs and deserves.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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