Hey guys! This week we’ll be looking at something quite special. A few years ago, in my local comic store, I stumbled across a comic collection known as The Pride by Welsh author Joe Glass, a series that follows a team of LGBT+ superheroes, not unlike that of DC’s Justice League. This comic was an immediate hit with me due to its interesting and diverse characters, in addition to its subject matter of acceptance, diversity and equality. So then, this week on our trip down the otaku rabbit hole, we’ll be taking a look at The Pride: Collected Edition, a book that gathers the six comics of The Pride’s main story, as well as the first three volumes of The Pride Adventures comics, a set of side stories that further build upon the world of The Pride and its characters. This book also contains additional content never seen before outside of this collection. I’m so very excited to review this one, because it’s a series that I love and feel more people absolutely need to see! Without further ado, buckle up everyone and let’s jump right into it.
The Main Story
Sick of being seen as inferior to his straight counterparts, FabMan, gay superhero extraordinaire, sets out to gather a team of like-minded super-LGBT+ individuals to fight against the many homophobic and small-minded villains that inhabit the world. Rapidly, he is able to gather a large group of diverse and unique individuals including Wolf, The Bear, Muscle Mary, White Trash, Angel, Frost and Twink, and together they form The Pride. However, the task before them is far from an easy one.
With the heroes having never worked as part of a team before, they must first learn to rely on one another while overcoming the darkness in their own individual pasts and the prejudice of the world at large before they’re ready and able to make a difference. Along the way, they must face off against many villains to thwart their evil schemes and must even stand against other heroes – The Justice Division – who spout a rhetoric that seeks only to discredit and belittle them. While the team grows ever stronger and more united, lurking in the shadows unseen is evil mastermind, The Reverend, forever plotting and waiting for his moment to spread “the Word” and annihilate the “sinners” from the earth – with The Pride being high on his list of targets.
The Pride is a fantastic series that takes the action and heart of some of the best superhero comics while adding in its own unique flair and a fantastically generous dose of rainbow-goodness along the way. This comic series does not shy away from some serious issues and is not afraid to shine a light on society’s treatment of the LGBT+ community as a whole, often treading the line between serious and light-hearted in a delicately subtle manner that is equal parts endearing and addictive. By providing a commentary on issues faced by many LGBT+ individuals in everyday life such as discrimination, violence, abuse and even erasure, this series is one that takes a novel spin on the superhero genre and is one that should be high on any comic book fan’s list of must reads – be they LGBT or otherwise. I will not venture into further depth on the story of The Pride comics for risk of spoiling the experience for anyone who plans on reading this series. Be aware, however, that the main Pride comic story is a roller coaster of love, loss, hatred and acceptance and is an absolute treat to read – you will not be disappointed.
The Pride Adventures
The second part of this collection, as already mentioned, is the first three volumes of character side-stories, The Pride Adventures. Featuring most of the main cast, this set of tales is invaluable in filling in the blanks found in both the character back stories and the world as a whole. From serious tales of lost love spawning a thirst for violent revenge, to the tale of a drag-queen-gone-bad getting read to filth, these stories are incredibly entertaining and will make you fall even further in love with this cast of colourful characters. A small warning with these comics, however, as if you were to read these prior to the main story, some of the bigger reveals and impactful moments would be somewhat diminished – a fact remedied in this collection due to its arrangement. All the same, if you plan on reading The Pride Adventures, maybe consider holding off until you’ve read the main story so you have the best possible experience out of this series.
Behind the Scenes
Honestly, as someone who thoroughly enjoyed my time with The Pride comics, having the additional ‘Behind the Scenes’ section outlining the early designs and inspirations for characters was a treat to read through. Getting to see where my two favourite characters – Wolf and Frost – began, and comparing that to what they eventually became was a real treat, and I must admit, I loved every single part of this section. It’s a fantastic addition to an already great collection of comics and is yet another jewel in this series’ crown.
The characters in The Pride are all incredibly unique and draw no small amount of inspiration from existing comic book characters. One look at any one of the cast members and you will be immediately reminded of a character from the world of either Marvel or DC. However, the designs are where these similarities end, with each character having their own set of quirks and personality traits to help set them apart from what came before. While I’m sure there will be many out there that have fallen in love the flamboyant caped crusader, FabMan; the intimidating yet kind-hearted, Bear; the tattooed wonder child with a heart of gold, White Trash; the wonderful Labrysian Queen herself, Muscle Mary, or any of the other fabulous characters on offer, it was Wolf that quickly solidified himself as my favourite character. As someone who has always loved the Dark Knight and his ability to go toe-to-toe with superpowered individuals, despite being only human himself, Wolf, the tactician of the group, was an immediate hit with me due to him being a character highly reminiscent of Bruce Wayne. From the costume to the man behind the mask, Wolf is an incredibly well rounded and, ultimately, human character who’s easy to get attached to – something I can gladly say is true of the majority of the characters in The Pride. Another character I personally adored was Frost, the fantastic cryomancer with a sarcastic and cutting British wit that made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. If you’re in the market for a comic series with characters that will make you laugh and cry while loving them through it all, then honestly, you could do far worse than checking out The Pride.
The art direction of this comic could be seen as somewhat divisive and can be a little difficult to get into on your first read. The Pride is written by a single author, however each chapter in both The Pride and The Pride Adventures is illustrated by a different artist. While this can be a little jarring at first, I honestly will say that this gives artists a fantastic opportunity to showcase their art and to give their take on the characters. While I personally loved the sumptuously smooth art of Héctor Barros and the beautifully familiar yet understated work of Adam Graphite, every artist’s rendition was fantastic in its own right and there’s guaranteed to be something to suit everyone’s tastes here. Sadly, some of the art didn’t resonate all that well with me personally, but the constant change in art styles works well to prevent the series from feeling stale and instead will allow you to find some new artists to keep your eye on in future.
The Pride comics collection is an absolute treat to behold. While exploring themes and topics that many other comics dare not tread, it simultaneously spreads a message of self-love and acceptance in the face of adversity. This collection is truly something special that, as soon as you open the front page, you can feel the love and affection that has been poured into each and every frame of this work. This is an important comic not only for the industry as a whole, but for those who feel underrepresented in a difficult world that is cruel to those who are different.
The message of acceptance, diversity and having a place to belong is a vitally important aspect of The Pride. To quote author Joe Glass in his afterword: “All I wanted to see was a character like me, not an allegory, not a whispered fact never appearing in the actual stories, but an open, honest and true representation.” This is something that many people can relate to on a deep, emotional level and this goal is something that The Pride and Joe Glass have succeeded in with ease – producing a masterpiece of a comic to rival some of the best the medium has on offer, only with the added benefit of providing the diversity and representation that is so sorely missed in mainstream media. This series is one that I’m very glad that I found and I can’t wait for the next instalment in the adventures of The Pride! I really hope that those of you reading this review will check out this series too, because you will be doing yourselves a great disservice if you don’t!
With no small amount of ‘Pride’, I award The Pride: Collected Edition a new accolade:
The Golden Carrot – an award reserved only for those that exceed my conventional scoring system and is something that stands head-and-shoulders above its peers in a realm of spectacular all its own.
For anyone interested, The Pride comics can be found on Twitter and Facebook, and Joe Glass is very active in his appearances at comic conventions in both the UK and US – so maybe you’ll find him at a convention near you very soon!
With all of that said, I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down the otaku rabbit hole and, until next time, keep it weeby everyone!