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The Garfield Messenger

The student news source of Garfield High School

The Garfield Messenger

The student news source of Garfield High School

The Garfield Messenger

Following Northstar

Opinion: Where the Marvel and DC’s pride specials work, and where they really don’t
Following+Northstar

Queer representation has a complicated history in the comics industry. With the destruction of the comics code authority, the past decade has seen a lot of improvement for canon queer characters in superhero comics. Every year Marvel and DC both put out Pride specials, Marvel incorporates it as part of their Voices series which includes releases for Black and Native American heritage months, while DC has its own DC Pride series. While many people have loved the spotlight and representation these specials offer for underappreciated characters and minorities, like all corporate participation in pride, these specials often fall short of meaningful developments.

 

First, I want to say I don’t hate these specials. I enjoyed parts of this year’s offering. Marvel’s Wedding of Destiny and Mystique finally married two former X-Men villains whose relationship editorial mandates in the past often confined to subtext, highlighting one of the strengths of these specials: their ability to make up for the bigoted censorship that plagues the industry’s past. DC’s releases include a tear-jerking autobiographical short by gay Wonder Woman writer Phil Jimenez, and a Rachel Pollack Tribute. Pollack was a jewish transgender woman, recognized for her incredible fiction writing and the creation of Coagula in Doom Patrol (1987), widely considered to be the first transgender superhero (though with the shifting of definitions and interpretations, this becomes a complicated title). The tribute reprints Coagula’s first appearance -in honor of Pollack who passed away from Cancer last year- along with a story focusing on another one of her characters, Brother Power the Geek, and a new story written by Joe Corallo, finally reviving Coagula 20 years after she died in the comics.

 

Though these specials are nice, the good ones are in the minority of the Pride content published and even less in the grand scheme of the Marvel/DC universes. Each year they release headline grabbing teasers months in advance “DC to introduce its first transmasc superhero” “There’s a new Juggernaut, and this one’s gay!” and as soon as the specials are released these characters are shelved and forgotten until the next special. For example, Jules Jourdain, aka Circuit Breaker, debuted in DC’s 2023 Pride special. A transmasc and nonbinary rodeo actor, he is empowered by the Still Force, the cosmic counterpart to the Speed Force that powers the Flash. With his cowboy themed costume and interesting powerset, he became that book’s breakout hit, and one of the most well-received characters DC’s introduced in recent years. Even now he maintains a consistent presence among internet fan spaces in discussions, art, and speculation. Since Pride 2023 his comic appearances have consisted of one issue of the Flash and a cameo as a brainwashed background animal during the Beast Wars event everyone hated. But he had a story in the most recent Pride special. When queer characters and stories aren’t allowed to participate in or affect the comics world outside of the specials, it shows just how insincere these companies’ ‘support’ really is. It sends a message to queer fans that they don’t really belong in the wider world of comics, and that at any point, as soon as it’s no longer profitable to support the community, all of it can be withdrawn or retconned, or ignored like it was never there.

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About the Contributor
Sly is a writer, illustrator, and doll fanatic.  A Senior, this is his 2nd year at the messenger, and he is so excited to be published in something other than zines. A surefire way to star a conversation is to ask him about the literary significance of the Saga of Arrow Odd.

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