Released December 28th 2016, Love is Love is a collaborative project by IDW and DC Comics that brings together world-renowned writers and artists from inside and outside of the comic community in memorial of the tragic shooting in Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12th of the same year. Available in print and digital format, all proceeds from the book are going to the victims, survivors, and their families through Equality Florida.
I haven’t read the comic in it’s entirety yet. The truth is, it’s hard to read. Comics are usually a medium that rely on the reader to remain emotionally invested while suspending disbelief, but not in this case. In Love is Love, you’re invested because it’s all real and relatable and human. It’s underscored by the fact that each vignette – whether proud and defiant or sorrowful and lamenting – has a tragedy as it’s foundation.
There are depictions of real hatred within. Not the Machiavellian, diabolical hatred harboured by comic-book supervillians, but a misguided and unspecific one. One story depicts Batman conducting an investigation at the scene after the shooting, with him concluding that “There was no ideology here. No small-minded prejudice. No simple explanation. There are no answers.”. There’s a page in black and white showing people holding phones, crying, with rainbow coloured texts sent to the victims crowding and eclipsing the page as it ends. Two pages chronicle the initial shock and outrage that takes hold of a man on hearing news of the shooting, how this fades to helplessness, and then fails entirely to find the footing necessary to translate into action. Two pages are portraits of individual victims, Amanda Alvear (25) and Christopher Andrew Leinonen (32), both immortalised at far too high a price.
The grim reality of the events that took place in Pulse is in no way shied away from. But, while it’s present throughout, the overall message is one of hope. The cover art by Elsa Charretier (The Infinite Loop, Starfire) is a striking depiction of love and resolute pride shared by all genders, sexualities, and ethnicities. This ideal permeates many of the pieces within, messages that echo the title of the anthology itself. There’s a full page artwork of Batwoman, staunch and unflinching, bearing the standard of an American flag with a rainbow on the reverse. In another, the Lantern Corps. stand undaunted, wreathed in a rainbow coloured aura. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Dumbledore are shown with wands raised and heads unbowed as a rainbow flourishes above them. These are the images that will remain, a legacy of strength and unity.
I can only recommend this anthology. There are some huge names in there; Scott Snyder, Patton Oswalt, Gail Simone, Mark Millar and Marguerite Bennett to name a few. But the people you’ll be buying it for are the 49 listed on the inside sleeve and their families. While there is no singular right way to mourn a tragedy, this is a beautiful one. And if there’s one take away from Love is Love, it’s that love endures.