Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Writer: Mags Vissagio
Artists: Eva Cabrera (Pencils, Inks), Claudia Aguirre (Colours)
Release Date: 6th July 2016
As one of those dreaded cis-gendered, straight, white men (ugh, I know, right? We’re the worst, I’ll admit it), there’s probably the assumption out there that an action book starring two lady bounty hunters – one transsexual, one bisexual – written by a trans writer had absolute no chance of making it onto my list of ‘pretty fucking great comics’. Or, y’know, anywhere near my radar at all, if the stereotypes regarding my kind are to be believed.
All these facts read as… well, y’know, facts, the question of the book’s approach to gender politics and sexual preference inevitably raises its head. But here’s the thing – Vissagio crafts a story here that has two fundamentally interesting characters at its heart, who are indeed trans and bi, but are simply never solely defined by these traits, a temptation which lesser writers have succumbed to left, right and centre in modern media.
Kim Q – the one with the pink hair on that glorious Tess Fowler cover – is chatty, impulsive, intuitive, and just freakin’ adorable. Kim D is a straight-talking, focused and assertive. Both are exactly as bad-ass as each-other when it comes to doing the whole bounty-hunting thing. Does it matter which way they swing? Where they place themselves on the gender spectrum? Fucking nope, it does not. And that’s not even mentioning the nonchalant cool that’s exuded by the setting in which these characters operate, or the elegant simplicity of the plot thus far. Black Mask as a whole have a supreme talent for sniffing out great story-tellers, and that trend is not bucked here.
The art is pretty great, all things considered – if you can imagine what Penny Arcade would be like if Mike Krahulik was more strongly influenced by both anime and LSD, you’ll pretty much arrive at the look Cebrera and Aguirre both have imbued the book with. There are occasional inconsistencies in some of the renderings of figures – distending necks, weird as balls hands, hastily sketched extras in the background of scenes – which seems to be a result of Cabrera having to work perhaps a little faster than she’s used to, but the storytelling and layouts as so breezy that you’ll find yourself easily over-looking the little inconsistencies in favour of the big picture.
There’s a brief moment where the book’s beautifully blasé attitude to what its characters define themselves as and who they like to frick does threaten to de-rail the book a little – a single piece of dialogue that seems to exist solely to confirm that, yup, Kim Q is trans. It’s not truly a bad thing, but it feels a little like a conversation that the two Kims would’ve already had at this stage of their friendship, and just a tiny bit crowbarred in.
It’s all those little things that prevent this from being a 100% essential read – in a perfect book, I’d’ve not even felt the urge to point them out. Here, they’re fairly noticeable, if easy to overlook, blemishes – but only because the book otherwise tells an absolutely wonderful story, that I’m excited to read more of. Sure, the LGBT community have gained two fresh new protagonists to represent them in a format of media that they’re criminally under-represented in – but the rest of us can get in on the good stuff too. Can’t wait for next month’s issue.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24