A panel from “DC Pride: A Celebration of Rachel Pollack” / Photo courtesy of DC Pride: A Celebration of Rachel Pollack

The Magical Mystery Tour of Pride Month Graphic Novels

Wonder Woman made me do it. I was three years old and obsessed with her comic books. I made my poor parents read them to me over and over, until covers and nerves were shredded. My mother noticed I was picking out words and trying to read sentences.

“This kid goes to school now!” Mami yelled. So at the age of four, I was packed off to Sister Maria Immaculata’s kindergarten and learned to read. Not just comics, of course. But I never really left them.

As a college student desperate to come out in the 1970s, there was no queer positivity or presence. I read the Zap! comics by R. Crumb-type artists. Psychedelic and counter-cultural stuff, yes. But queer? No.

Fast forward four decades and now, in June, a number of comic purveyors publish special Pride editions. DC and Marvel, the two main U.S. comic/graphic novel publishers, have dropped multiple Pride anthologies over the years.

If you’re a fan of comics, your salivary glands go into Raging River mode. If not, you really should still take a look.

“DC Pride: A Celebration of Rachel Pollack” is unusual, due to Rachel Pollack’s unusualness.

Pollack (1945–2023) was a Jewish trans woman from Brooklyn with a wife and the author of tons of award-winning science fiction and magical realism writing, tarot and kabbalah, and multiple comic books. A professor of Creative Writing at Goddard College and of English at State University of New York, she frequently wrote on trans life and issues. She plunged us into her swirling kaleidoscopes of dimension-hopping, barrier-shattering storylines and included her trans heroine, Coagula.

Rabid neo-Nazis menacingly follow a group of wild women in the primordial forest, chanting, “Fire our rage! Cleanse us of fear! Bless your daughters, THE PACK MENSTRUAL SAVAGES.”

In one panel, Rachel’s alter ego wears a button reading, “Put a Transsexual Lesbian on the Supreme Court” as she recounts to a friend about her tryout for the Justice League (of which Wonder Woman is a member), and not making it: “I suspect they liked my powers but couldn’t handle ME.”

Those of us who care about the “L” in LGBTQ are so often disappointed or infuriated by the left-in-the-dust treatment we too often receive. So, imagine the climactic joy many experience with “Marvel’s Voices Pride — X-Men: The Wedding Special #1” which is all about the wedding of the mutants Mystique and Destiny. For decades, fans have justifiably read the mutants inX-Men” comics as queer. These two are explicitly so.

The cover hypes Mystique and Destiny’s Never-Before-Told Wedding Revealed at Last!

Beautiful mutants each, one blue-skinned, the other not. The uninitiated may still become engrossed in the stories swirling around them (a collection of different teams of writers and artists present different takes on this special day).

Special Day problems of course pop up … Something borrowed? “The 9mm or the .45?”

After a razor-thin run ahead of a pursuing pack of the Law, Mystique literally crashes into the ceremony: “Marry us, son. Quickly!”

Kurt, also known as Nightcrawler: “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

“We spit on the law!”

Kurt: “Do you take this woman to be your wedded wife?”

“Yes! Always! Forever!” Each has died and been resurrectec in past stories.

Regrettably, story and character norms in the comics universe can be a bit difficult to understand for the uninitiated. But they can enjoy anthologies such as “DC PRIDE 2024: Venturing to the Farthest Reaches of the DC Universe!The 10 stories here, by 10 different creative teams, present great joy and heartbreaking challenges.

The book contains ads for outfits like TransLatin@Power (you can scan the QR code inside to learn and donate) and PFLAG.org/ReadWithLove to inspire readers to take action against the forces of darkness seeking to erase any instance of LGBTQ presence and any actual history from the public sphere.

Note that “Moms Against Liberty,” as I call them, are catching up to these comics. So buy a ton and donate them!

Marvel does not have an anthology book this year. Instead, it concentrates on Marvel celebrates Pride Month 2024 by focusing on LGBTQIA+ characters & straight allies by swapping out “variant” comic covers (see thepopverse.com/marvel-pride-month-2024).

It’s good to see even a brief presentation of America Chavez, the first Puerto Rican super-powered, brown-skinned lesbian heroine. There are Black characters and Asian characters too!

Happy Pride!