Is Marvel Comics’ Pride series all about straight people this year?

Marvel Comics seems to have seriously missed the point of Pride with its latest announcement.

In the company’s June solicitations — aka, a preview of what it’ll be releasing in June and into the summer — Marvel revealed a special series of variant covers for Pride this year. Sounds like our queer heroes will be getting some love, right? Not exactly.

The series is called Pride Allies, and it focuses not on Marvel’s queer characters, but its straight ones that support the queer community. The variant covers will appear on eight of Marvel’s top-selling comics, including “X-Men,” “Scarlet Witch,” “Incredible Hulk,” “Amazing Spider-Man,” “Immortal Thor,” “Captain America,” “Daredevil, and “Jackpot and Black Cat.”

This choice raises lots of questions, particularly for queer fans. Why are straight characters getting extra focus during Pride Month, when that attention could be going to even more queer content? And if just a few straight characters are being highlighted as allies, where does that leave the rest of Marvel’s roster of heroes?

The announcement made waves on social media, where queer Marvel fans expressed their frustration with this misstep.

Some fans compared the situation to DC Comics’ treatment of Pride covers, which has been heavily accused of relying on queer-coding instead of actual queer representation (ie featuring a character like Nightwing, who fans have long imagined as bisexual, on a Pride cover by saying he’s an ally). This way, the companies can get credit for queer representation without making their characters canonically queer and angering their conservative fans.

Others argued that portraying Marvel’s biggest heroes as allies is a good thing, as it shuts down ideas that characters like Captain America would disapprove of the queer community. But the fact remains that it’s shifting the focus away from LGBTQ+ folks during their biggest month of the year.

Still, all is not lost for queer representation. The Pride Allies series is being published in addition to the annual Marvel’s Voices: Pride Anthology (you may recall this year’s variant cover, which went viral for its thirst-trappy depiction of Hercules). That anthology will focus specifically on queer characters and stories — y’know, like you’d expect from anything tied to Pride. 

Also, the Pride Allies covers, though they do focus on straight characters, will all be illustrated by two queer artists, Betsy Cola and Davi Go.

Ultimately, it seems that Marvel has good intentions with its Pride Allies series — it just may not have thought the optics all the way through. Let it be a lesson to publishers everywhere: when it comes to Pride, just leave cis-straight people out of it.

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