Sunday, June 16, 2024

‘Marvel’s Voices: Pride’ #1 Review: A Far Too Quiet Riot

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Hot on the heels of DC’s bit of rainbow capitalism, Marvel’s own Pride anthology was released last week with new characters being introduced and more stories exploring our favorite existing characters. Lots to discuss so once again going to dive right in.

All My Exes in the Nexus

Written by: Alyssa Wong
Pencils, Inks, & Colors by: Stephen Byrne

Marvel's Voices Pride interior art

I’m fairly ambivalent on the Young Avengers. I think most of their appeal nowadays comes from nostalgia and fandom interpretation. But this story was a cheeky and fun little reunion for characters we haven’t seen together much outside of group shots. America was written to be a bit brash and it seems a bit odd that this is her only inclusion in the pride anthology; considering she is one of the most popular lesbian characters at marvel. Stephen Byrne art is up there with some of my favorites and the page layouts worked so well with America’s powers. I also really love Loki and this story both leaned into their ridiculousness and also humanized them a bit.

Ancient and Modern

Story by: Andrew Wheeler
Pencils & Inks by: Brittney L. Williams
Colors by: José Villarrubia

I’m not as well-versed or caught up with Marvel’s cosmic adventures so I haven’t entirely kept up with Hercules and Noh-Varr but their charming rapport during battle felt true to character and representative of their relationship. Pointing out their differences but ultimately using those differences to their advantage was a great “opposites attract” moment and the line from Noh about “Why am I attracted to the stupidest men?” made me laugh out loud. 


Story by: Grace Freud
Pencils by: Scott B. Henderson
Inks by: Lee Townsend
Colors by: Brittany Peer

Marvel's Voices Pride interior art

I’m sad to say I’m also not super familiar with D-Man. Could go into an aside about how many of marvel’s queer characters are fairly obscure. But not here, not now. D-Man leading a support group for trans heroes felt correct, even with my limited knowledge of his canon. The misfit bunch of young adults that he is mentoring are all hilarious and charming with unique powers and stories. I love the instant dynamic that is set up between the characters and I see you sneaking Spider-Man into the trans-focused story! I hope we get more of these characters and their adventures!

Perfectly Scene

Story by: Danny Lore
Pencils & Inks by: Lucas Werneck
Colors by: Michael Wiggam

Marvel's Voices Pride interior art

By far one of the more poignant sections of this title, the story of Taku and Horatio made me feel and understand their love through the page. The narration dug into their history and the setting framed both the harsher side of Horatio and the gentler side that he was trying to bring out. One of the best in this anthology and one that seems to be underrated based on what I have seen.

Stay Outta My Mind Turf, Jack

Story by: Christopher Cantwell
Pencils & Inks by: Kei Zama
Colors by: Rico Renzi

Marvel's Voices Pride interior art

Admittedly I was very confused by the dreamscape/mirrored reality premise of this at first, but once I understood it I fell in love. I loved seeing Phyla-Vell and Moondragon in motorcycle punk digs and I loved the message behind the story. Pride has always been rioting against systems of oppression and while this was still a light hearted story, it got to those themes in a fun and campy way. The art is incredible and the full page of Heather shaving her head is probably my favorite in the book. 

Over the Rainbow

Story by: Ira Madison III
Pencils & Inks by: Lorenzo Susi
Colors by: Rachelle Rosenberg

There is always a bit of awkwardness when it comes around to trying to tie Human/Earth-bound concepts to the extraterrestrial (see last year’s introduction story), but I enjoyed Runa learning about pride and then trying to make it for herself in her own culture. Throw in some Loki shapeshifting mischief? Especially feminine presenting Loki? All makes for a fun and light-hearted story. 

Marvel's Voices Pride interior art

Permanent Sleepover

Story by: Charlie Jane Anders
Line art: Ro Stein & Ted Brandt
Colors by: Tamra Bonvillain
Consulting by: Naseem Jamnia

Whenever it’s announced that new characters will be introduced in the pride anthology I’ve come to feel a sense of resignation that we’ll get hyped up and fall in love with this new character and then never see them again save maybe a background shot. The marvel universe and specifically the X-Men are already saturated with queer-coded characters and sometimes it feels cheap to just add new ones. Despite all this, I couldn’t help being charmed by Shela and Morgan and learning about their history together. The duality of Shela coming out to her parents as a mutant vs coming out to them as a trans woman wasn’t heavy-handed; and the established narrative of Morgan’s parents welcoming his identity in a stride only added to the contrast.

Marvel's Voices Pride interior art

I felt like the X-Men plot aspect of this story was honestly unnecessary. Shela and Morgan had enough plot and dynamic that when Destiny and Emma Frost showed up it felt almost like an intrusion in their story. I understand they wanted to rope Shela into the New Mutants story that is about to happen, but in my opinion there are more natural ways that it could have been done. In any case, the adorable Charlie Brown-esque flashback panels and narration was incredible and I found myself wanting more of Shela’s story. I’m well aware of how difficult it is for solo books for new characters to get off the ground but I wish I didn’t have to read about her being a side character when she has so much story to tell.

Marvel's Voices Pride interior art

And…that’s it! The last about 15 pages of this anthology are handbook pages. While it’s always great to learn more about Kyle Baublier-Jindau, it would also have been great to get a few more narrative stories about some of the queer characters who are only wheeled out once a year. The non-binary characters, the (not many) transmasculine characters, the pansexual characters, the (non-existant) aro or ace characters. I would have preferred to have even one page stories including some of these identities than several pages exploring Viv Vision’s phasing ability. Or I would even have preferred a story about Viv! These ending handbook pages just felt like a cheap way to bulk up the book.

While it’s not an outright competition between DC and Marvel for who had the better pride anthology, it is difficult not to compare them. And in this case DC is kicking Marvel’s ass. When I finished reading this anthology my first thoughts were “that’s it?” The two anthologies are about the same length but the density and meaningfulness of the DC stories made it feel much longer. There were still incredible stories in Marvel’s it just felt like more of a fizzle than a bang.

Images via Marvel Comics

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