In Kim & Kim writer Magdalene Visaggio has delivered us an intriguing and exciting sci-fi world, complete with instantly lovable leads, morally dubious bounty hunters, interstellar gang rivalries and good old-fashioned folk songs and boozing.
These are our two eponymous bounty hunters, making their way through the universe picking up criminals and vagabonds in order to make enough money to keep them “in horror comics and boozemohol for the next five years”. Except they’ve hit a dry spell. Or rather, they’re totally broke. Then along comes the job of a lifetime, with a reward that will last a lifetime attached…All it takes is going up against a rival bounty team who share a history with Kim Q and her estranged criminal kingpin father.
Of course, this job might not be all it seems on first glance, but there’ll be no giving away spoilers here.
There’s obviously plenty of comparisons to make here with Tank Girl, but I think at its heart Kim & Kim comes from a gentler place. There’s still plenty of punching and smashing glass and beating people over the head with electric guitars… but this is a story made by its moments of quiet friendship and the shared recollection between two main characters that know each other well enough to be totally open.
Visaggio’s writing brilliantly captures the repartee between both Kims, but it also captures the tongue-in-cheek attitude of the whole issue. Kim Q narrates our story in a fourth wall bending style, snarking at us from within the panels and playing with narrative clichés in wry style. And, of course, all in hot pink lettering – courtesy of Zakk Saam.
The art of Eva Cabrera perfectly matches the Kims’ playful spirit, though it’s the colouring of Claudia Aguirre (she and Cabrera make up Mexico’s Boudika Comics team) that gives this comic the lightness and sense of fun it needs, without losing the deeper heart of the story.
And there is a deeper heart here. And a deeper level of significance to this book – I mean, how many times do you see a mainstream comic book with a transgender main character actually written by a transgender writer?
Oh yeah… Kim Q is a trans woman. That’s not come up yet because the story doesn’t make it a major feature, a shoehorned expositional moment, or a point of great angst or confrontation. Kim Q’s character is no more defined by her gender than she is by the colour of her hair. In fact, the latter might actually be more defining.
Of course there is an important place for transgender narratives that talk about coming out, transition, and all the struggles and revelations that come with those things. But it’s also just so refreshing to see a story featuring a trans lead (and a bisexual lead in Kim D) that precisely chooses not to dwell on gender and sexuality, but to simply take it as a given.
There’s already so much to love about Kim & Kim, so much to make a reader desperately hopeful for a great series to come (and an LGBT reader like me even more hopeful for a great, genuine, trans storyline)… So let’s all just hope the kick-ass Kims keep entertaining and surprising us for many more issues to come!
Magdalene Visaggio (W), Eva Cabrera (A) • Black Mask Studios , $3.99