Identity is complicated. Whether you’re celebrating Pride having been sure of yourself for a long time, sure of yourself for the first time, sure of yourself for the third time, or, like me, absolutely unsure whatsoever, it’s complicated. And that complication is okay. Gender, sex, sexuality; it’s only so recently that mainstream society has even begun to accept the vast spectrums people identify and exist across. Marvel Voices: Pride #1 is a celebration of Marvel Comics’ history of breaking ground representing queer identities, its current lineup of queer characters, and an acknowledgment that there is still so much work to be done ensuring that readers can see themselves in its heroes and the creators that bring them to life.
Marvel Voices: Pride #1, the latest in the Marvel Voices series celebrating creators, characters, and people of marginalized identities, is written by Kieron Gillen, Allan Heinberg, Anthony Oliveira, Steve Orlando, Tini Howard, Leah Williams, Mariko Takami, Terry Blas, Crystal Fraiser, Vita Ayala, J.J. Kirby, Luciano Vecchio, and others. The art is by Javier Garrón, Jim Cheung, Kris Anka, Jen Hickman, Paulina Ganucheau, Jethro Morales, Britney Williams, J.J. Kirby, Luciano Vecchio, Jan Bazaldua, Claudia Aguirre, and others.
The comic features a number of short stories about characters old and new, interviews with Marvel staff whose own identities were pivotal in helping bring LGBTQ+ characters to comics, and informational pages about the history of queer representation in Marvel comics and major milestone issues. As an extra-long anthology, it delivers a great balance of these types of content. I wish there were some more interviews, as the real-life pioneers who helped break seemingly unbreakable barriers are truly more heroic than any of the characters they created. But I’m glad to have gotten to share in any amount of history that I didn’t know before.
The stories themselves are all great. There’s not a single dud. The whole comic begins with an in-universe ode to the history and diversity of queer characters in Marvel. And most beautifully, the stories that follow display all kinds of representations of queer characters. Some are specifically about their identities and the struggles they’ve gone through hiding or sharing them. There are some about the woes of queer dating lives or the beauties of queer friendships. There are others about addressing microaggressions and attempting more than anything, really, to inform the reader about how to discuss or respect various identities. And then there are stories where queer people are just existing, and their identities aren’t central to the plot of the story. Having this diversity of stories is great representation.
What I found a bit unfortunate was that the vast majority of the stories are about mutants. While mutants have long been used as metaphors for society’s marginalized peoples and today’s comics about mutants are clearly the most filled with diverse characters, including characters with different gender, sex, and sexual identities, I wish that there were more queer characters who weren’t mutants. Because mutants are already so well-associated with metaphors, it almost feels like the easy way into representation, whereas having queer characters in other mainstream series may be greater risks. Nevertheless, I think the comic does acknowledge that there is still much work to be done, and I hope that over the next years to come, all kinds of representation of marginalized peoples become more mainstream.
What I love the very most about Marvel Voices: Pride #1, though, is how much it made me so badly want to read the stories of its characters, both their pasts coming to terms with the identities they now embrace and the ongoing stories they are part of. Every single story had me wondering where I could go to see more of them. One of the greatest things about reading queer media, whether you identify as queer or not or you’re not sure how you identify, is that it offers a safe opportunity to explore and consider yourself. This comic does that so well with its diversity of stories and identities on display and how much it invites you to read more. A story where two characters discuss how they came to understand that they were bi may never happen in a comic not explicitly about queer identity, and for this context, I’m grateful. And, I appreciate that many other comics are featuring these same characters, their relationship, and their experiences to continue reading from here.
There are so many different beautiful moments, relationships, and conversations in Marvel Voices: Pride #1. Two of my biggest standouts are the introduction of Somnus and a conversation Magneto has with a young mutant upset over feeling othered by his being gay. I never thought Magneto being a really nice and understanding old man would make me cry like that, but here we are. Also, I am so appreciative for this comic’s inclusion of a reprinting of Northstar’s coming out as gay for the first time in comics history. I didn’t expect to weep over a coming-out story from three decades ago, but again, here I am.
Regardless of how you identify, what you’re questioning, or whether you feel safe and comfortable in who you are yet, Marvel Voices: Pride #1 is a beautiful ode to the history, present, and future of queer identities in and behind Marvel comics.
Marvel Voices: Pride #1 is available wherever comics are sold.
Marvel's Voices: Pride #1
Regardless of how you identify, what you’re questioning, or whether you feel safe and comfortable in who you are yet, Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1 is a beautiful ode to the history, present, and future of queer identities in and behind Marvel comics.