This week, ComiXology launches a new web-only comic book, Youth, a comic about queer teen superheroes by Curt Pires, Diotto and Dee Cunniffe as part of itsline, which has already been fast-tracked to be developed as an Amazon Prime Video TV series. It's an interesting choice, as ComiXology already has a comic about queer teen superheroes, as part of it ComiXology Originals line, written by former Bleeding Cool writer Joe Glass. So how do they compare?
Youth is a story of disaffected underclass. Thieves, drug users and dealers, violent thugs, muggers, arsonists and car thieves. And that's just the first two guys we meet, stuck in dead-end lives. The story sees this couple meet up with a bunch of partygoers who are equally young and morally bankrupt. The darkness and drabness, the heavy ink and knocked back colour pallette suggests a New Mutants style approach, and everyone is as black as sin. The worst possible people to get powers, and basically a Misfits without the humour. If all superhero tales are those of power fantasies, this is an attempt to give power to those least likely to wield it – and whose self-destructive actions are as a result as the only power they have is to destroy themselves. Until now.
In contrast, The Pride is a comic told in fairly primary colours. Written and published by Welsh comics writer Joe Glass, with a variety of artists including Pride co-creator Gavin Mitchell, the comic revolves around an LGBTQ+ superhero team consisting of FabMan, Angel, Bear, Frost, Sapphire, Twink, White Trash, Wolf and Cub. The Pride is a far more conservative, traditional superhero comic than one may have expected, it's just that their members are all non-heterosexual. The kind of thing that Young Avengers might edge towards at Marvel was just out in the open here. Its first publication in 2011 put it way ahead of its time as well, but just as any superhero team attempts to find commonality of purpose, despite their various personalities, drives and divisions, they come round to the idea of a common cause, in both representation and action.
The Pride contrasts the media stereotypes of the portrayal of gay superheroes, against societal prejudices and the more mundane reality of daily life, but shies away from Youth's repressive bleakness. It's much more comparative to something like Astro City, Savage Dragon or Top Ten, a huge superhero universe seen through the eyes of one title, and fans of those series are missing a trick if they don't pick up The Pride. Whereas those who loved Misfits should jump on Youth immediately. You never know, it might get funnier too.
Of course, right now, no one needs to fight over it, as both The Pride and Youth are also available included as part of ComiXology Unlimited, currently offering a 60-day trial if you live in the USA (sorry Joe), Kindle Prime and Prime Reading. So there's that as well.