The House of Ideas celebrates its vast spectrum of LGBTQIA+ talent in the 2022 edition of Marvel Voices: Pride #1.
This year’s edition of Marvel Voices: Pride continues where the inaugural 2021 anthology left off, spotlighting some of the Marvel Universe’s most beloved LGBTQIA+ characters while also introducing a few new ones, each with their own creative teams that include queer talent. Because of the grab-bag nature of an anthology special like this, YMMV on which parts will appeal to you more than others, but it’s an altogether impressive package that has something for everyone, especially if you’re under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella or just like some of the characters or creators found within.
The standout of this year’s Marvel Voices: Pride for me is “Permanent Sleepover,” introducing a brand-new trans character named Escapade. Over a whopping 20 pages—essentially the length of an average comicbook—we follow Escapade (Shela Sexton) through a pivotal adventure that sets her on course to becoming a bona fide superhero. A mutant thief with untrained potential, Shela can swap herself with anyone in her immediate vicinity and “become” them for a brief period of time. (Example: she couldn’t literally transform into Steve Rogers himself, but she could become Captain America, with all that entails.)
In this expanded story, we learn Shela’s full backstory and understand her motivations, which involve both her literal/figurative partner-in-crime Morgan Red, who—like herself—is also a trans mutant. When his fate is put into question by Emma Frost and Destiny, who are very interested in having Shela on Krakoa, they’re forced to take matters into their own hands before it’s too late. It’s not exactly a spoiler to say that Shela ultimately makes the decision to move to Krakoa—she’s already been confirmed to reappear in New Mutants later this year—but thanks to writer Charlie Jane Anders, the tension between them on that regard is believable. Artists Ro Stein and Ted Brandt also do their best to convey the drama, particularly through childhood flashbacks in the style of Charlie Brown comic strips that are very effective.
The other story I really enjoyed is “LGBT-D,” which follows Dennis Dunphy—formerly known as D(emolition)-Man—leading a support group for teens with superpowers who are also trans and non-binary. It’s short, sweet, and simple: a conflict between Spider-Man and the Sinister Syndicate crashes their group session, forcing everybody to team up to fight off the villains. Despite the abbreviated length, though, creators Grace Freud, Scott B. Henderson, and Lee Townsend pack “LGBT-D” with fun details and small character moments that really make me want to see this expanded into a series of its own.
I’m a big fan of D-Man to begin with, but I’m also already obsessed with the cast of new characters introduced here, which include shapeshifter Soph/Faceshopper (a reference to the late producer extraordinaire and trans icon SOPHIE) and the X-Statix-esque stylings of Pity Girl, who defeats her enemies with sob stories. And tying everything together, they also appear in Escapade’s solo story later in the issue!
The rest of the stories here are fun in their own right, ranging from fan favorites (Young Avengers, Moondragon/Phylla-Vell) to recent breakthroughs (Hercules/Noh-Varr, Rūna the Valkyrie) and even a real deep dive I’d never heard of prior to reading this issue: the Wakandan couple Venomm and Taku. There isn’t enough room for every LGBTQIA+ character in the Marvel universe to make an appearance here, and just one annual special is the minimum that could be done to improve the state of queer representation on the comics side of the company, but Marvel Voices: Pride is a great new tradition to spotlight a side of the industry that often goes ignored or undervalued by the powers at the top, and I hope it only gets bigger and better with each passing year. Happy Pride!
Marvel Voices: Pride #1
- Writers: Alex Phillips (Introduction), Alyssa Wong (“All My Exes in the Nexus”), Grace Freud (“LGBT-D”), Andrew Wheeler (“Ancient & Modern”), Christopher Cantwell (“Stay Outta My Mind Turf, Jack”), Danny Lore (“Perfectly Scene”), Ira Madison III (“Over the Rainbow”), Charlie Jane Anders with Naseem Jamina (“Permanent Sleepover”)
- Artists: Stephen Byrne (“All My Exes in the Nexus”), Scott B. Henderson with Lee Townsend (“LGBT-D”), Brittney L. Williams (“Ancient & Modern”), Kei Zama (“Stay Outta My Mind Turf, Jack”), Lucas Werneck (“Perfectly Scene”), Lorenzo Susi (“Over the Rainbow”), Ro Stein and Ted Brandt (“Permanent Sleepover”)
- Color Artists: Stephen Byrne (“All My Exes in the Nexus”), Brittany Peer (“LGBT-D”), José Villarrubia (“Ancient & Modern”), Rico Renzi (“Stay Outta My Mind Turf, Jack”), Michael Wiggam (“Perfectly Scene”), Rachelle Rosenberg (“Over the Rainbow”), Tamra Bonvillain (“Permanent Sleepover”)
- Letterers: VC’s Ariana Maher with VC’s Clayton Cowles
- Cover Artist: Nick Robles
- Editors: Sarah Brunstad, Anita Okoye, Angélique Roché
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment