Writer: John Lees
Artist: Alex Cormack
Release Date: 20th December 2017
It’s time once again to travel back to the (thankfully) fictional Glasgow suburb of Sinkhill in the latest issue of John Lees and Alex Cormack’s SINK, on sale this week from ComixTribe.
On paper, Lees has put together an interesting story here, with Trans woman Florence returning to her old Sinkhill stomping grounds – a place where she was previously well-known as a notorious hard-case – to avenge the death of one of her closest friends.
It’s a tricky subject matter, something Lees seems acutely aware of, especially given the trans nature of the lead character being such a key storyline component – and, in this case, the target of all manner of transphobic abuse and ridicule from the Sinkhill residents.
Ultimately however, and in spite of some interesting character-based moments early in the issue, it’s difficult to really discern the overall point of the story.
Florence gets abused verbally and threatened physically for having the courage to stand up and be who she really is, so it this a story of courage and strength in the face of abuse? Well, possibly, although in doing so, she also turns her back on her previous resolutions, reverting to her days as “Rab” in order to handle her abusers, which makes it less a story of empowerment than a dose of escapism in terms of watching transphobic bigots being glassed into oblivion.
And while the ‘Glasgow hard-nut spends their life fighting everyone because they’re angry about living a lie’ angle is an interesting one, the payoff seems to be little more than some excessive violence and an “I did it for myself” denouement, which seems like a bit of an underwhelming way to end such an intriguing story.
On the visual side of things, Cormack’s work is of its usual high quality for the most part, although certain pages see him perhaps leaning a little too heavily into the ‘look how much red I can get on the page’ approach, to the point where it all starts to lose its impact somewhat. The tightly structured sense of frantic horror that we saw with Mr. Dig or the Killer Clowns is gone here, replaced instead by an angry, confusing swirl of crimson.
There are some great visual moments early on in the issue, with Florence’s facial expressions portraying her mixture of frustration and sadness as she learns of her friend’s death, and the overall structure of the violence is definitely captivating, but a definite ‘less is more’ approach might be worthwhile moving forwards in order to avoid the violence reaching almost cartoony levels of gore and undermining what I’m assuming is its real intention.
A slight dip in quality from the previous two issues then, although that’s still not saying much considering the fact that they were absolutely top-quality, and all credit to Lees for trying something a little different here. There are some fantastic moments here, along with some striking visual beats, but for the first time in the series so far this feels like a bit of a missed opportunity rather than one that has been seized firmly with both hands.
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