“Imagine the gay Avengers,” says comic artist Joe Glass, and I am happy to oblige.
His new book, The Pride Omnibus, is a collection of queer superhero stories that he’s published over the last decade, and it’s a thrill for any nerd tired of the relentless (and, let’s be honest, implausible) heterosexuality of the spandex set.
Comprising seventeen comics, the omnibus gathers stories from The Pride’s main story, plus another collection of short adventures — seventeen comics in one! — and hits shelves June 1. You should get it.
“I have a weird tangled trajectory through comics,” Glass says. He was a casual reader as a kid — as kids tend to be — but as he entered adolescence he started collecting, primarily with X-Men titles.
To be honest, when I heard this, my first thought was, “that’s not tangled at all,” given that a love of the X-Men is as widespread among queers as joining Drama Club.
“The mutant metaphor is so clearly a metaphor to the disenfranchised,” Glass acknowledges. “Even as a teenager, on some level I think that’s what attracted me to it. An awareness that I was a bit different, and there was something unique about me that I didn’t feel would get love and attention if I was open about it. This world sort of felt like, I’m sort of like them, then, maybe I can still be the hero.”
And though he doesn’t shoot lasers from his eyes (THAT WE KNOW OF), Glass’s creation of openly queer characters is plenty heroic for his readers. His series began when he was around 16 years old, and found himself tiring of stories in which queerness is always hidden in metaphor. It felt like just another closet, he says, and resolved to make comics in which LGBTQ+ heroes can be the story, rather than a metaphor.
The Pride’s early issues begin with a team assembling, then tackling issues that will be familiar to queer readers: a villain who wants to convert people from being different, forcing them to conform; followed by a story about dealing with fame in which the mainstreaming of the characters’ culture becomes a double-edged sword.
In the decade since he started publishing The Pride, Glass has created numerous other queer and queer-friendly titles. He says that he’s seen a monumental change in the comics industry — in particular, queer characters getting major storylines from Marvel and DC. Previously, he says, “you’d get them for a special issues and then they vanish,” like a sassy best friend on an ‘80s sitcom.
Now, he says, “In the last year, year and a half from Marvel, you’ve got queer characters who are the leads.”
It’s true: I am trembling with anticipation for my friend Josh Trujillo’s upcoming issue of Captain America! Captain America as a queer activist who defends unhoused youth!!! Good lord!
For his part, Glass welcomes the major publishers’ discovery of queer people, and looks forward to seeing more. Better late than never, after all.
“They should have been doing this for years,” he says.
The Pride Omnibus comes out on June 2. Nudge your local comic shop now to order a copy.