DC Pride 2023 #1 Review

Writers:  Grant Morrison, Leah Williams, Nadia Shammas, A.L. Kaplan, Josh Trujillo, Jeremy Holt, Mildred Louis, Rex Ogle, Christopher Cantwell and Nicole Maines
Artists: Hayden Sherman, Paulina Ganucheau, Bruka Jones, A.L. Kaplan, Don Aguillo, Andrew Drilon, Mildred Louis, Stephen Sadowski, Skylar Partridge and Rye Hickman
Colors:  Marissa Louise, Tamra Bonvillain, Enrica Eren Angiolini, Dearbhla Kelly and Bex Glendining
Letters: Aditya Bidikar, Frank Cvetkovic, Lucas Gattoni, Ariana Maher, Morgan Martinez and Rusty Gladd
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price: $9.99
Release Date: May 30th, 2023

DC again puts the spotlight on several heroes who are members of the LGBTQ+ community in DC Pride 2023 #1.  It’s a 100-page book with 9 stories featuring a variety of heroes:  Batwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Crush, Robin (Tim Drake), Connor Hawke, Xanthe Zhou, Midnighter, Apollo, John Constantine, Natasha Irons, Ghost-Maker, Cat-Man, Jonathan Kent, and Flashlight (the Green Lantern of Earth-36).  Though a couple of the stories are overly preachy, there are a few gems here also.

The Stories

Of the 9 stories presented in DC Pride 2023 #1, three stories were excellent, 4 were average and 2 were WAY too preachy and not enjoyable at all. The three best stories were “Love’s Lightning Heart” (featuring Flashlight, the Earth-36 Green Lantern), “And Baby Makes Three” (featuring Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Crush) and “Lost & Found” (featuring Batwoman and Xanthe Zhou). “Love’s Lightning Heart” (written by Grant Morrison with art by Hayden Sherman) is another epic mix of cosmic weirdness from Grant Morrison.  If you’re not familiar with the characters of Earth-36, you’re probably going to get super lost here, and the many references will sound like graduate-level word salad to you.  The story involves Flashlight pushing his powers to the limit to bring Red Racer (the Earth-36 version of The Flash) back to the land of the living.  Like many of Grant Morrison’s stories, it feels like a lost Silver Age DC story overlayed with modern sensibilities, and there’s a lot of Kirby-style cosmic wonder as Flashlight visits exotic worlds with daunting names like “Gaolworld Maxitractus II” and “Ossuaria Dei”.  It’s a beautiful story, setting the stage for what will hopefully be a new series or miniseries with the heroes of Earth-36.

“And Baby Makes Three” (written by Leah Williams with art by Paulina Ganucheau) has Harley and Ivy spending quiet (and not so quiet) time on Dinosaur Island.  When Crush (Lobo’s daughter) crash lands on Dinosaur Island, Harley and Ivy befriend her and teach her lessons about love and life.   This was my favorite story in the book.  It’s hilarious in places and makes a statement without beating you over the head with it, and even includes a fantastic 80’s style montage, as Harley and Ivy attempt to get Crush to “lighten up” over the course of a few days.  So much fun! “Lost & Found” (written by Jeremy Holt with art by Andrew Drilon) has Xanthe Zhou adjusting to life in the world of the living, struggling with loneliness and being in an unfamiliar world.  When she stumbles across a gang of hi-tech grave robbers, Xanthe and Batwoman jump into action to stop them.  It’s a great story with more insights on Xanthe (one of my favorite new DC characters) and lots of action.   Xanthe and Batwoman interact well and are a good fit together.  I hope we get to see more of the two together in the future.

I found the stories “Hey, Stranger” (featuring Tim Drake and Connor Hawke) and “Anniversary” (featuring Midnighter and Apollo) the two weakest stories in the book.  Both stories sacrifice a good story, instead choosing to pontificate and preach throughout.  The intentions are great here, trying to put the reader in those characters’ shoes and convince us to relate to their struggles, but it’s done in such a suffocating way, it makes both stories tough to get through. Also included in the book are a very moving tribute to Rachel Pollack, who passed away on April 7th 2023 and was a major trans figure in the comics community, doing a lot of great work for Vertigo Comics and writing a legendary run of the Doom Patrol book. An excerpt from an upcoming graphic novel starring Dreamer is also here, written by Nicole Maines with art by Rye Hickman.  Visually, it’s stunning, but there’s not enough pages here to give an impression of how good the graphic novel will be, it’s more just a collection of bizarre images as Dreamer has an extended dream full of symbolism.

The Art

There’s an army of artists on DC Pride 2023 #1.  As with the stories in the book, the art ranges from divine to mediocre. Standout artists in the book were Andrew Drilon, Stephen Sadowski, Hayden Sherman and Paulina Ganucheau, whose art styles perfectly fit the stories they worked on, with Sherman lending Jack Kirby-style grandeur to Grant Morrison’s story, while Paulina Ganucheau’s work has a wonderfully cartoony but detailed style for the Harley Quinn, Ivy and Crush story.

Final Thoughts

Given the $9.99 price of DC Pride 2023 #1 and the fact there are only 3 great stories in it (as well as a wonderful tribute to Rachel Pollack), you may only want to pick this up if you love Earth-36 or want to see more of DC’s new characters Xanthe Zhou, Circuit Breaker and Dreamer.


Leave a Reply