Up to this point, Jess Chambers — Kid Quick and future Flash of Earth-11 — hasn’t been much of a character in their own right. It’s incredibly lovely seeing them finally get their moment to shine. Jess’ only previous appearance was in DC’s Very Merry Multiverse anthology, and I hope readers get to see more of their adventures outside of anthologies in the future. The short comic’s title itself — “Clothes Makeup Gift” — comes from Jess’ to-do list, which they repeat frequently throughout the comic to make sure they don’t forget any element of preparing for their date with their girlfriend. Set in the future when Jess is Flash rather than simply Kid Quick, it’s a fun and light-hearted read as Flash struggles to complete their errands while balancing the responsibilities of being a superhero. The story’s writer, Danny Lore, is nonbinary themself and gives nonbinary readers much-craved representation in Jess. Free of angst,”Clothes Makeup Gift” is what fanfic writers might call “fluff,” but it’s some wonderfully written, funny fluff. It’s especially needed for nonbinary readers like me, who rarely get to see ourselves freed of trauma, or as the heroes, or simply going on dates.
The art by Lisa Sterle is, simply put, charming. While Flash’s costume design covers a majority of their face, Sterle makes the character’s eyes remain incredibly expressive and this stylistic choice more than overcomes the mask’s setback. Similarly, Flash’s new nemesis wears a full face-mask and, if anything, proves how capable Sterle is at depicting a sense of expressiveness and motion with body language alone. While a few panels can feel slightly too sketchy or under-rendered, it’s a small flaw in an otherwise wonderful comic. The colors by Enrica Angiolini are a wonderful tonal match for Lore’s story and Sterle’s art. Over all, they radiate a feeling of warmth, as if the whole of Earth-11 were enjoying the perfect late afternoon. In their bright red outfit, Flash always remains the focus of the page.
Strangely, one of the comic’s best moments comes in the form of Jesse picking out their outfit for the date. Trans dressing and undressing scenes are often done voyeuristically and show transness being something that can be “taken off.” (I’ve written extensively about the trope here.) In “Clothes Makeup Gift,” the “clothes” moment is simply a fun fashion montage. As a nonbinary reader, it feels not just cute but refreshing.
The DC Pride Anthology’s cover is a group shot and it feels more significant to see the characters it represents than to see how they’ve been represented. Ultimately, several of the Pride Anthology variants feel both more interesting as compositions and emotionally significant in how they portray characters. Generally, it’s a very static group shot, but it’s lovely to see this new Flash make the main cover.