Mainstream comics has now fully entered an age of woke-washing and virtue-hustling. And to continue this trend, today DC Comics announced DC Pride, an 80-page anthology comic featuring LGBTQIA+ characters from across the DC Universe, along with Crush & Lobo, a new eight-issue miniseries written by Mariko Tamaki. Crush & Lobo will launch on June 1 and DC Pride will publish on June 8. In this new eight-issue miniseries publishing between June 2021 and January 2022, Crush, daughter of the Czarnian bounty hunter Lobo, is in full-on self-destruct mode! After rage-quitting the Teen Titans and blowing up her relationship with her girlfriend Katie, Crush decides it’s time to finally confront her father in space jail and get her baggage sorted before she wrecks everything.
Hey, what Lobo fan doesn’t want to see the main man play second fiddle to his silly daughter?
DC Pride #1 will feature LGBTQIA+ characters from all corners of DC’s Comics Universe, including everyone’s favorite lesbians Batwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Renee Montoya, along with dudes like Midnighter, Apollo, Extraño, Constantine, and more. Oh, and of course we can’t forget the ‘Golden Age’ Green Lantern Alan Scott, DC’s “legacy” gay character that they had to retcon in order to turn him into a homosexual. But “Green Lantern is Gay!” sure got them a lot of publicity back in 2012, and they’re milking that same angle again in 2021 in order to drum up some publicity for the upcoming HBO Max series.
If you’re keeping score, here is a list of the DC Pride books and their creative teams:
- Batwoman (Kate Kane) by James Tynion IV & Trung Le Nguyen
- Poison Ivy & Harley Quinn by Mariko Tamaki & Amy Reeder
- Midnighter by Steve Orlando & Stephen Byrne
- Flash of Earth-11 (Jess Chambers) by Danny Lore & Lisa Sterle
- Green Lantern (Alan Scott) & Obsidian by Sam Johns & Klaus Janson
- Aqualad (Jackson Hyde) by Andrew Wheeler & Luciano Vecchio
- Dreamer by Nicole Maines & Rachel Stott
- Renee Montoya by Vita Ayala and Skylar Patridge
- Pied Piper by Sina Grace, Ro Stein & Ted Brandt
Not content with simply telling comic tales of gay characters, DC Pride #1 will also include full-page profiles of DCTV’s LGBTQIA+ characters and the actors who play them. And speculators, pay attention! Anyone still watching the CW’s Supergirl won’t be surprised to see the first comic book appearance of Dreamer, a trans woman superhero, in a story written by actor Nicole Maines, who plays Nia Nal/Dreamer on Supergirl.
Rounding out the DC Pride anthology is a forward by Marc Andreyko (Love is Love), single-page pin-ups by artists Kris Anka, Sophie Campbell, Mildred Louis, Travis Moore, Nick Robles and Kevin Wada, with more surprises to come! The DC Pride #1 cover is by Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Tamra Bonvillain. DC also also announced a series of nine Pride themed variant covers in June, showcasing nearly all of DC’s top characters.
At the end of the summer, when these potentially poorly selling books have come and gone to the dollar bins, will DC Comics or the LGBTQ+ community feel complete? Can DC simply slapping a rainbow on their covers and calling themselves ‘LGBT-friendly’ ever be enough to satisfy gay rights activists? Of course not. The gay community demands a yearlong, enterprise wide commitment to the LGBT movement within every cultural corporation, and “woke activism” isn’t usually perceived as very sincere once pride month is passed and the rainbow veneer has been stripped away.
Marvel almost had it figured out back in 2017 when their Vice President of sales, David Gabriel, told ICv2 that retailers had told him that fans were sticking to old favorites. “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity,” he said. “They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard… that’s what we saw in sales … Any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up.”
Of course Gabriel was excoriated by the activists that refused to believe his sales data. However, it’s no surprise to see DC Comics going “full tilt rainbow”. After all, woke activism is sort of Daniel Cherry’s thing. My only question to Cherry is “what took you so long?”
While I think realistic depictions of LGBT lives that are designed for both LGBT and non-LGBT consumption can be positive and helpful to the entire human race in regards to not having a sense of loathing towards any group or minority, comic book superhero ‘representation’ which are designed to depict LGBT people and their lives, designed for quasi-progressive non-LGBT consumption is most certainly pandering. To suggest that perniciously designed LGBT presence in media, which provides a less than normal, human or in-depth portrayal of the lives of LGBT people is obviously contentious. Celebrating ‘representation’ of fictitious superhero characters who are for all meaningful purposes scarcely LGBT is about as pander-y as it gets.
In the end good storytelling is what matters most. Great art too, since this is a visual medium, but the story is what matters and it needs to be good. Readers who are extremely skeptical, straight or gay, about the “necessity of inclusion/representation” in comics will put every last one of their complaints aside if the end product is strong. But simply wrapping your product up in a rainbow banner isn’t a sign that what you hold in your hands is something of any actual quality or merit. It’s just virtue-hustling, guys and gals, oh and non-binaries…
It remains to be seen if this will have any positive or negative effect on DC’s bottom line, or if they even care. It’s interesting to see companies continuing to do this sort of ritualistic pandering to a community that has all the same rights as their counterparts, and that still represent less than 5% of the US population. Perhaps this is done to simply show solidarity with a community they want to reach, but I question if they even know why they’re doing this when one of the covers is simply Nightwing dance around with a rainbow flag. I’d hate to think that this was simply another marketing idea to grab a few headlines and outrage clicks to boost dwindling comics, but we’ve been in this era for a while now, so why would this be any different?
Good luck, DC. What will you do for “Super Straight Month“?