When a series has dozens of main characters, it’s pretty easy to get lost. That’s why I took the opportunity to reread the whole Pride High series when I received a copy of the seventh and latest issue. Writer Tommy Roddy and a big group of artists have been telling the tale of a gay-straight alliance at a high school for super-powered youngsters, against the background of a slowly-developping mystery surrounding the seemingly accidental death of one of the GSA members. The first issues showed the group, and especially the grieving boyfriend of the dead youth, coming to terms with the death, while the recent ones are opening up the scenery by involving various adult heroes and villains, including a group from under the sea. Roddy has created a complex world as well as engaging characters, and manages to keep a strong rhythm to his storytelling, something that becomes obvious when one reads all the published issues in one session.
The one thing that makes it a bit hard to keep all the characters in mind is the variety of artists, or more exactly, the variety of art styles. Case in point, issues #6 (I’d missed that issue) and #7. In the sixth issue, artist Pat Pungpee gives us a manga-ish version of the characters, with slightly elongated bodies and faces, and a scratchy inking that seems to me both energetic and a bit unpolished. Contrast that with the latest issue, where penciler Robert Rivera and inker Polawat Darapong offer a very clean, realistic style (it made me think of Phil Jimenez’s work). I must admit it always takes me a few pages to recognize the characters. But that variety doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a well-conceived story, and that the character’s changes and growth are as important as the plot of the unfolding mystery. One of the most interesting characters in that regard is a homophobic bully who’s shown to mature over the course of the series.
It had been a while since the previous issue, so I hope the series is back on track and that Roddy and his artists will manage to give us more Pride High more often.
The whole series can be bought as pdf from the publisher (you’ll find a preview there, too) or in print from Indy Planet.