Kim & Kim #1
Written by Mags Visaggio
Interior art by Eva Cabrera
Colors by Claudia Aguirre
Letters by Zakk Saam
Edits by Katy Rex
Covers by Tess Fowler w/Kiki Jenkins and Devaki Neogi
Published by Black Mask Studios
Kimiko "Kim Q." Quatro and Kimberly "Kim D." Dantzler are the best, feistiest, most kick-ass bounty hunters in the galaxy. Too bad they're broke all the time. After botching an assignment, they're hired to go after Tom Quilt, a rogue member of the El Scorcho criminal syndicate. But nothing is what it seems, and the Fighting Kims are getting more than they bargained for with this bounty. Action, rock n roll, and queer heroes are the order of the day for this sci-fi miniseries from new talent curator Black Mask Studios, and judging by the first issue, is going to be a hell of a ride.
This issue actually has two covers, one by Tess Fowler (Rat Queens) and Kiki Jenkins, the other by Devaki Neogi (Curb Stop). The Fowler and Jenkins cover has expressive line work and composition for the provocative titular characters accentuated an eye-catching splash of neon colors. It's like an album sleeve for a smashing alt-rock CD. The series' logo stands out with its bold lettering, like the title of an action movie, and the shotgun guitar in the center its both stylish and helps hint at the content of the comic. Although not as flashy, Neogi's cover is sketchier in style, and shows Kim & Kim in their scrap heap of a truck spaceship and a dust cloud after an explosion in the background. This cover better captures the gritty, action-packed world of Kim & Kim while also maintaining a bright color scheme. Both covers are visually pleasing and do a great job of attracting potential readers.
Eva Cabrera's art style is unique, given the content of the comic. Its similar to action sci-fi comics like Transmetropolitan and Ballistic where its a gritty future ruled by crime and corruption. While the art for those titles is realistic to highlight that gritty setting, Cabrera is more cartoonish, with big eyes, exaggerated facial expressions, loose body shapes and proportions, and minimalist environment details. Combined with Claudia Aguirre's bright color palette and Zakk Saam's bulgy lettering, and we get a Looney Tunes-esque portrait that contrasts with the less than ideal world. This doesn't deflate the dark side of things so much as gives it a bit more character, a wild, carefree tone that makes it fun and not brooding.
This is especially true given the characters of Kim Q. and Kim D. When first introduced, they're chasing down a bounty. This scene is action-packed, and the excitement on both Kims' faces is contagious. This is true of all the action scenes, and readers will be strained to feel bored. The only flaw is that sometimes characters look stiff in these scenes, making weird and awkward body movements.
Another thing that the art helps to do is flesh out the queer feminine aesthetic of Kim & Kim. Kim Q. is trans while Kim D. is bisexual, and the way they present themselves highlights their queerness. For one, they dress in revealing, loose-fitting clothing, especially Kim Q. However, this is not meant for male gazing. In fact, Cabrera makes sure to draw the Kims naturally and not in awkward poses meant for titillation (Take notes, comic artists). So why dress that way? For one, these women have a rock n roll thing going on, an aesthetic meant to be in your face and confrontational, and what better way than to dress provocatively. Also, perhaps they want to own up to their identities that signals to the world "We're here and we're queer!" Kim Q. doesn't hide the fact that she is trans, and revealing parts of her body could be part of that identity affirmation.
Queer femininity through outlandish fashion is a big part of the comic, from the front cover to the opening scene where Cabrera draws everyone inside of a restaurant in tuxedos and dresses, and Kim & Kim suddenly burst in on the scene like they just escaped a Guns N Roses house party. Their clothes, haircuts, and make-up signals them out, but it's empowering rather than oppressing. There is a sense of joy with being a queer woman. It's something that makes you different, unique, and you want to express it by acting and looking the part with no fucks given. Even if they're not queer or a woman, the reader can't help but feel this same excitement and cheers on for the duo. Thanks to the art team's fantastic work, this feeling is captivating.
Mags Visaggio contrbutes to the queerness Kim & Kim by being frank about it. In one scene, the Fighting Kims sit down and talk casually about the sexual appeal of a man before segwaying into a discussion of identity. This also reveals how, at least with Kim Q., part of embracing identity is confusion. Kim Q. hints at her past romantic feelings for another man while still one, and how being trans at the same time made her deeply question herself. Even now, she's still trying to figure it out. It's not confirmed, but it also may be the reason behind her broken relationship with her father, Furious Quatro. This anger and confusion manifests as an impulsive, rebellious nature, whether it's telling authority figures to go screw themselves or wasting money on liquor. It can make Kim Q. seem obnoxious and even unlikable at times, but at least the reader understands where she is coming from.
It's also good to have Kim D. along. Out of the two, she's the more sensible one and is always trying (and mostly failing) to keep the team professional. One can feel the chemistry between these two women. The only downside is that Kim Q. steals the show. She's the most explored, making Kim D. feel a little underdeveloped. She's sensible and corrects Kim Q. on her bullshit, but what else? Other characters feel the same way, and the issue might have to do with the comic's world building.
Kim & Kim isn't a hard facts kind of science fiction, more like Star Wars where there's a lot of weird shit without explanation but it's there because it looks cool (Seriously, how'd you even get a Volkswagen bus to fly in space? The gas prices would be insane). Still, there are plenty of opportunities for world-building, such as power structures and character/world history. On this account, Kim & Kim is uneven. A lot of stuff is told rather than shown. Furious Quatro, the Catalans, El Scorcho are all name dropped without a whole lot of going further into them. Kim Q. narrates, and she drops some info, but it isn't enough unless later issues plan on expanding the reader's knowledge. The only time Kim Q. goes in depth is about a location. It feels random and doesn't seem to do anything but give reader's information about the place contrary to what's visually presented. A lot of this issue concentrations on the duo without exploring much else, and it might have helped to make the first issue longer. It would be a longer read needing more attention and dedication from readers, but it might have paid off with a richer world. Hopefully, proceeding issues will expand the world and its characters.
Even so, Visaggio's story is still a fun sci-fi tale with a mystery plot that seems to be thickening ever so much, and the humorous exchanges between characters adds some welcomed spice.
With action, excitement, beautiful art, and an engaging plot with refreshingly queer heroes, Kim & Kim looks to be one of the best new debuts from Black Mask this year. Pre-order a copy today, and get ready for a rocking reading experience.