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Big Queer Energy In The Pride Omnibus

Joe Glass, writer & creator
See below for a full list of creators
Dark Horse
$29.99

The Pride are unapologetically queer superheroes fed up with being looked down on, misunderstood, and closeted who come together in a good versus evil fight filtered by a prismatic lens. At the heart of the Pride is its founder Fabman who is joined by Frost, Muscle Mary, Wolf, Twink, Angel, Bear and his son, and White Trash.

Inside the book’s covers writer and creator Joe Glass delightfully subverts and plays with the superhero genre and generally has fun while incorporating issues both small and large that affect the LGBTQA community in individual and systemic ways. Take for example Fabman, Wolf, Muscle Mary, and several members of the Justice Division, this Earth’s primary superhero team. They’re easily recognizable analogs of familiar superheroes: Fabman (Superman), Wolf Muscle Mary, and Wolf (Batman) while several others are reflections of Martian Manhunter, Apollo, and Midnighter to name a few. Fabman as a Superman counterpart is fascinating. Visually Fabman’s costume color palette of pink and purple with a rainbow lined cape turns Superman’s patriotic red and blue color scheme on its head with a full on queer rejection of the standard “superheroes wear primary colors” paradigm. His bare arms and legs ask to be admired while his confidence, empathy, and intellect counterbalance. Looking beyond the surface I take Glass’ Fabman to be inspirational in similar ways that Superman has been over the decades. A brief scene in the Pride’s origin story shows Fabman interacting with a young boy who’s taunted for playing with a Fabman action figure by a couple other boys provides the catalyst for Fabman to persuade and organize other queer heroes to come together for a greater good just as Superman stands for truth and justice. Even the tag line “Tomorrow’s Fabulous Man, Today!” echoes “The Man of Tomorrow” for Superman.

Aside from my appreciation of Fabman several other elements resonated for me. First among these is Glass’ embrace of love and romance for his supers with several relationships. The joy is in seeing how they develop and play out so you’ll get no potentially spoiler details from me!

Much has been said elsewhere about alter egos and secret identities being akin to the dilemma of living a closeted life. Glass explores being in the closet and coming out in two instances that caught my attention. I don’t want to spoil any details except to say that in one example Glass constructed it in a way that I don’t recall being done previously in comics while the latter event involving the Frost character was handled in a way that I found  relatable although for a very different reason that happened in my life. 

Now that was a segue I hadn’t planned. There’s a lament repeated here and there in comics fandom about reading comics for entertainment. Nowadays it’s most associated with a narrow minded and socially regressive element who’re quite vocal about keeping “politics” and queer “agendas” out of comics. Truth be told, the escapist aspect of comics is one thing that so powerfully attracted me to comics but I also learn from stories and characters that sometimes do and other times do not reflect my own life experiences. That is with the notable exception for me of HIV. My HIV+ diagnosis came 25 years ago. To say it’s been a journey is the epitome of an understatement and I’ve been extremely critical of HIV and poz characters in comics simply because it’s too personal and almost nothing resonates for me. Upon discovering a poz character in the series I immediately felt my defenses go up and stay up until coming to a scene with said character and realizing I’d been undone rather deftly by an insightful bit of characterization by Glass.

The mention of stories in the preceding paragraph brings up another salient point. Anthropologist Clifford Geertz is known for his “thick description” studies of various cultures which sound terribly dense and boring. To (badly) paraphrase Geertz: “Culture is the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves” or if you like “the truth about stories is that that’s all we are”. Glass was a teen when the UK’s repressive Section 28 which prohibited any “promotion” in schools was on the books. In reality it was meant to suppress queer culture and most thankfully Glass was having none of it and went on to build his own queer world.

Of course Glass was helped by a sizeable number of artists whose commendable work and faith in queer representation brought these stories to life!

If I have one criticism it’s from a production viewpoint and one it isn’t unique to this book. The stories lack page numbers on the contents page. It seems such a minor thing to mention but including page numbers would make finding stories or specific scenes and pages that jump out at you a lot easier than randomly scrolling or flipping pages.

This coming November marks the tenth anniversary of The Pride’s first appearance. The omnibus clocks in at a huge 452 pages or about 21 issues, all of which were produced by Glass and initially published by crowdfunding. It’s quite a set of admirable accomplishments to have under one’s belt.

Check out The Pride if you want affirming, supportive, and most of all unabashed queer superheroes! You can read Joe Glass’ Pride essay here.

Look for The Pride Omnibus at your local comic shop (Diamond order code FEB210312) or your local bookshop (ISBN 978-1506724478). The Pride is also available through Amazon

Full credits for The Pride include:

Writers: Joe Glass, Sina Grace,and  P J Montgomery

Line artists: Gavin Mitchell, Dan Harris, Hector Barros, Kendall Goode, JD Faith, Jack Davies, Chris Wildgoose, Marc Ellerby, Maxime Garbarini, Samir Battett, Denis Medri, Dani Abram, Cory Smith, Martin Kirby, Adam Graphite, Andy W Clift, Tana Ford, Chris Imber, Andy Bennett, Ben Wilsonham, Elizabeth Beals, Cem Iroz, Jon Scrivens, Rhys Wootton, and Jon Cairns 

Color artists: Kris Carter, Elizabeth Swann, Nathan Ashworth, Ben Wilsonham, Héctor Barros, and Mark Dale

Cover artists: Kris Anka, Cory Smith, Jack Lawrence, W. Scott Forbes, Jamal Campbell, Hamish Steele, Jemma Salume, Luciano Vecchio, Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, Ryan Maniulit, Max Sarin, Elizabeth Beals, Kyler Clodfelter and Mark Dale

Letterer: Mike Stock

The cover art for this review is a cropped version of an illustration made by Luciano Vecchio for an issue and not the Omnibus.

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