Despite the push for LGBTQA characters in superhero fiction, few superhero comics have gone as far with representation as Joe Glass' The Pride. Your reaction to that sentence will undoubtedly establish whether The Pride: Fame Monster is right for you. If the idea of a superhero comic that asks "What if the Justice League were comprised of gay, bisexual and/or trans characters?" causes you to bristle, then nothing will likely convince you to read this fun sequel series to The Pride: I Need a Hero.
Picking up from the previous series, The Pride: Fame Monster opens with the new superhero team coming off its most recent victory. The best character from the previous volume, Bear, is in a coma, leaving the team down two members (Bear's son, Cub, is mostly at his father's bedside). Now led by not-Bruce Wayne, Wolf, The Pride is looking to expand its roster in order to be prepared for any cataclysmic events.
When a mysterious monster begins picking off concert attendees, a pop star named Siren asks The Pride to stop this unknown force from doing more harm.
The members of The Pride are all pastiches on established heroes, crossed with lovingly reclaimed LGBTQA stereotypes. Fabman, Wolf and Muscle Mary are obvious tributes to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, although they are given enough distinct characteristics to stand on their own. The only character who isn't distinguishable enough from his inspiration is Hyperion, a combination of DC's Doctor Manhattan and Marvel's Sentry.
But the rest of the cast have their own personal conflicts, which are integrated into the main plot: Fabman struggles with his occasionally thoughtless and tactless behavior; Wolf deals with being a closeted celebrity in the limelight; and Muscle Mary lingers with the guilt of the life she left behind, conflicting with the one she now leads. Her storyline, sadly, isn't given as much attention as it probably needs in these first two issues, but it's immediately compelling whenever it comes into play.
However, that point leads to the comic's biggest flaw. There are a multitude of interesting characters that are not given enough time on the page (at least, not in these first two issues). The book introduces so many characters, all of whom you want to see more of, but the issues introduce too many plot points to focus in on any one narrative for too long. Hopefully, later issues give these plot points more time to breathe.
Artist Cem Iroz's artwork is lovely, with each character sporting a unique look and aesthetic. But what really makes the art sing is Mark Dale's coloring, as the comic erupts to life with its array of colors. Some panels look a little flat or stiff, but only on occasion.
Glass uses the comic to examine real issues facing the LGBTQA community, with characters becoming mouth pieces for assorted talking points. While the superhero narrative offers a good lens through which these debates can be discussed, at times the momentum of the story stops as the characters wades into this discourse.
The exception for this is the Hyperion storyline, into which the larger issues are woven organically into the action. So much of this discourse is written in such a heartfelt manner that it doesn't feel distracting.
But here's the ultimate question: Do you want to read a superhero story that focuses on the socio-political discourse surrounding LGBTQA individuals? If so, The Pride: Fame Monster is something you may enjoy. Does this topic not interest you? The Pride is still recommended, if only to introduce you to a worldview you might not otherwise experience.