I read them and here are my quick thoughts:
Jon Kent in "Super Pride"
Honestly, this was probably the one I liked the least. It just felt the most fake, the least authentic. The image of Jon having all the flags in the lining of his cape felt super performative, like I’m pretty sure this was a gag from The Boys but done unironically. I’m pretty sure the “straight pride” flag was in there too, which…is a choice.
Also, while I’m sure these stories were written well in advance, but the whole “Pride has been a party for decades” line rings hallow when there are major bills trying to upend the rights of LGBT people going on right now. Also…why is Damian acting like this? It’s not like he’s fresh from his mom’s ninja compound, he should know what a Pride festival is.
This felt like something that would have maybe rang more true in, like…2012, but is just completely out of touch.
Nubia in "Confessions"
This was a cute story. Nubia is in an interesting place because she’s a character that has shown up here and there since the 70s and now DC is trying to make her a stalwart figure in the DCU with a history that doesn’t always add up. I do like how they’re adding her into these stories, though. Seeing her in a charity wrestling match is a weird place for her, but it’s cool to see her out of her element. I also dug how they tweaked the art style for the flashback to make it feel more like a late 80s comic.
And by the way, if anyone wants to read the story that the story is referencing:
Conner Hawke in "Think of Me"
This was really well done. In some ways, it’s a standard “superhero thinks while doing superhero stuff” short that we’ve seen dozens upon dozens of times. But I think what it does is eloquently highlight the struggles of asexual people. Personally, I am not, and I don’t really know anyone who does, but I think this story really illustrates the feeling in a way that made me understand a bit better. I feel like this story is going to be very affirming to those who are out as asexual, and might even give people who are struggling and questioning the knowledge that they are.
Alysia Yeoh in "Up At Bat"
I really enjoyed this one. I liked Alysia’s character all the way back in Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl, and it’s great to see her get back into prominance again between stories like this and showing up in the upcoming Batgirl movie. This showed her in a really cool light, though I’m curious to see where she goes from here. While she has her own costume now, I’m not entirely sure if she needs to start going out and fighting crime – not every supporting character in a comic needs to don a mask – but I’m willing to be convinced if the story is told well enough.
Jackson Hyde in "A World Kept Just For Me"
This one was fine – it has some cute moments and does some nice introspection about Jackson’s history while continuing the relationship he started in his mini-series, but honestly just not much to talk about.
Jo Mullein in "The Gumshoe in Green"
Now this was definitely one of my favorites. I absolutely loved the Far Sector book, and I’m also a mark for film noir stories, so a short that continued that story with a noir aesthetic really got to me. Loved the art and story and pacing for it.
The only conflicting part of the story for me was the climax when Jo encountered the couple together and how she responds to them. On one hand, her dealing with the whole “bisexual people want to bang anything that moves” the way she did was really emotional and cathartic – especially for someone like myself who has dealt with some of that in the past. On the other, that explosive ending did kind of blow away the noir aesthetic and plopped the story right back into the comfortable superhero stuff. That might have been the intent, but I was just vibing with the black and white (and green) stuff so much that I was kind of hoping for a more noir ending. But, that’s just my own expectations – taking the story on it’s own terms, it’s really good and it makes me want to see more Jo content in the future.
The Ray in "Public Display of Electromagnetism"
I liked this story for how it handled a fairly real thing for people freshly out of the closet of showing affection to your partner. It was sweet enough, though I think since I don’t have as much experience with The Ray, the impact of what happened doesn’t really resonate as much? Like, I think we saw something similar recently in Wayne Family Adventures that handled this in a way that was more compelling to me, though I think it’s because it deals with characters I have more affection for, like Tim Drake and Kate Kane. Speaking of…
Kate Kane in "Bat’s in the Cradle"
This was an interesting one, because it’s not really about Kate, it’s about her father Jacob. I was definitely thrown off because while it’s been a minute since I’ve read the most recent Batwoman book, I thought he was in prison or something, so seeing him doing missions was weird. Overall, I liked how it explored Jacob’s thoughts on fatherhood and raising Kate…
But, there was one thing that annoyed me, and that was how Stephanie Phillips rewrote the scene where Kate comes out to Jacob. I’m of the opinion that that scene is pitch perfect, completely in line with both characters and is easily one of the most powerful moments in Kate’s relatively short publishing history. It would be sort of like rewriting one of Joker’s monologues in The Killing Joke, or something to that effect. I dunno, that might just be a “me” thing.
Tim Drake in "Special Delivery"
Tim’s recent coming out was…interesting for me. I wasn’t against Tim being bi, but it did feel out of nowhere and afterwards it just felt like an afterthought. But this story did more to make me like Tim’s relationship with Bernard more than any of the regular floppy issues have previous. Mostly because…we actually get to see them as a couple, doing date stuff and actually having chemistry. Bernard feels more like an actual character in silent panels than he did in whole scenes where he’s talking. It definitely makes me more into these two as a couple going forward…though I’m still not forgiving DC for breaking Tim and Steph up off panel.
Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy in "The Hunt"
This was a cute, but…odd story. It felt weird and dream-like from the start, even before the nega-clones of the two showed up. Part of it was the art that worked really well for this story, but also a lot of this felt random and unexplained. The flirtiness was cute in this story at first, but I did find it odd that when both Harley and Ivy were declaring their love to each other to the nega-twin version of their lover that they almost exclusively talk about their physical attributes. It’s nice to see DC not hide the physical aspect of their relationship, but in this case the sheer amount of it makes them both feel kind of shallow. Like, did we really need two top/bottom jokes in four panels?
Jesse Chambers in "Are You Ready For This?"
This was a nice story. It’s interesting in that while the subject of pride and festivals and all that is there, it’s really not the main focus or driving force in this story, for me, at least. What I thought was more interesting was the way it explored Earth 11 and all the differences it had between our classic Prime Earth, not just in the gender swapped stuff, but how it changes the characters and history, like Doctor Mid-Nite being the first out superhero. Definitely makes me more curious to check out the Multiversity: Teen Justice series.
Kevin Conroy in "Finding Batman"
This was, without a doubt in my mind, the best story in the collection. I remember when this was first announced, there were a lot of people who were shocked about Kevin Conroy being gay, but seeing him tell this deeply personal, sometimes painfully traumatic story was really shocking and captivating. The way that Kevin relates channelling all that pain and anger from his experience growing up in an abusive home and being a gay man in a time when it can be career threatening into the role of Batman I think speaks a lot to the universal appeal and relatable nature of the character.