Pride Month celebrations have apparently begun early at Wizards of the Coast. The publisher of huge trading card game Magic: The Gathering released an initial look at the Pride Across the Multiverse Secret Lair drop, which features eight reprinted cards with alternate art - most focus on canonically queer characters with illustrations by queer artists.
Secret Lairs have been Wizards’ way of providing limited-run collectible cards at a premium price while also inviting a bevy of artists whose style might fall outside the regular purview of core MTG cards. It has also been a vehicle for fundraising efforts, and this latest drop fits that model. Half of each sale will be donated to The Trevor Project, a US-based organisation that provides crisis prevention services for queer youth alongside research, public education and political advocacy.
Art director Stephanie Cheung included a personal note in the announcement post on Wizards’ website. “From the start, we wanted this Secret Lair to celebrate the LGBTQIA2S+ community's relentless creativity. There was no way this collection of eight cards would represent every aspect of the community, but we wanted to honor the hope and joy found in our multifaceted identities. It is our hope that people find some part of their own unique selves reflected in these cards.”
“Each card in Pride Across the Multiverse tells its own story of love, struggle, resilience, joy, and community. Stories are how we practice hope, and I think it's so important to hope, to really be in the practice of holding fast and remaining true. It is our triumph, and we will shape the future with our ferocious resilience. I am so proud of what we were all able to accomplish in this set and thrilled to accompany you on this journey."
Heartbeat of Spring, by Peo Michie, canonises a relationship between two Planeswalkers that the community has wanted for a long while. Saheeli and Huatli - hailing from the planes of Kaladesh and Ixalan, respectively - share an intimate moment with each other, a Filigree Familiar and Huatli’s loyal raptor mount. A short story published the same day narrates how this rendezvous came about.
A reprint of the hefty white-Mana Triumphant Reckoning, illustrated by Merlin G.G, features Niko Aris bursting through a cloud of birds and shards - their trademark planeswalking power which allows them to manipulate space in some interesting ways. Kieran Yanner’s take on Savor the Moment depicts Ral Zarek and Tomik Vrona’s marriage on the plane of Ravnica - the two men initially hid their relationship since they hailed from different guilds.
Winona Nelson offers a look at Alesha, Who Smiles at Death in the Tarkir-born character’s august years, training the next generation of warriors. Alesha was MTG’s first canonically transgender character, and Nelson, who is Two Spirit, said on Twitter that they felt a meaningful connection to this assignment. Collective Voyage’s alternate art, done by Ricardo Bessa, shows what a Pride celebration might look like on Kaladesh. Chandra Nalaar at the head is a small, if notable, step by Wizards to continue exploring the character’s queer nature after a controversy and subsequent apology for her depiction in the War of the Spark novels.
Bessa also illustrated what might be the best card in the Secret Lair collection - a pun-fueled take on Bearscape that features several hefty, hairy men relaxing in a verdant valley and enjoying each other’s company. Lauren YS’s Sol Ring artwork is an easter egg bonanza honouring many queer identities, and Jabari Weathers’ Mana Confluence shares a rainbow coalition pooling their efforts to realize a future worthy of past efforts.
The Pride Across the Multiverse Secret Lair drop opens pre-orders tomorrow and will be available in both foil and non-foil treatments. Wizards of the Coast did not provide an estimated shipping date in this initial preview. More information about The Trevor Project and its work can be found on the organisation’s website.