Kim & Kim #2
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Pencils & Inks: Eva Cabrera
Colors: Claudia Aguirre
Letters: Zakk Saam
Edits: Katy Rex
Cover: Devaki Neogi
Producer: Matt Pizzolo
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
The queer bounty hunters Kim Q. and Kim B. find themselves in a bind as they help their former bounty, Tom Quilt, prove his innocence. Easier said than done. Between Kim & Kim's reckless behavior, The Catalans' interference, and toying with forces most unnatural, the duo have a snowball's chance in a burning supernova to accomplish anything. Will the Kims finally be able to get themselves together? Along the way, Kim B. confronts her past, and Kim Q. struggles with her estranged father. Looks like laser guns and savage criminals ain't the only problems in the Multiverse.
On cover duty for issue #2 is Devaki Neogi who also did the variant cover for issue #1. It lacks the neon glam punk aesthetic of Tess Fowler, but has its own unique look. The architecture in the background looks like the back alley of a grimy city, yet it's curvy instead of rectangular. Add Kim & Kim's glam hair and clothes, and it's an indication of how this series is upbeat, instead of serious like similar stories. It's best to think of Kim & Kim as if Jem and the Holograms took over Outlaw Star.
The art team of Cabrera and Aguirre brings this world to life, with an opening of the underwater city of Qui Ho'olo. It's nothing new (save for the hallucinogen-packed water), but its glowing presence catches the reader's eye. Characters are uniquely drawn and animated, moving through panel layouts that slant in the direction of the action. Facial expressions are over-the-top, and striking lines are used to convey excitement. Scenes switch back and forth between light and dark without losing the bright tone of the color palette. I would love to show you some of the impressive scenes, but that would give too much away.
Zaak Saam returns with his bulgy lettering that adds an extra layer of looney to the tuney (oh fuck me and my puns). The problem is that Kim B. is narrating, yet it is the same color as Kim Q.'s narration from issue #1. it quickly becomes obvious Kim B. is the narrator, but given she and Kim Q. are distinct characters, it's a minor flaw.
This issue focuses on Kim B. from her narrating the majority of the comic to focusing on her backstory. It establishes Kim B.'s constant fear of failure and explains why she is hypercritical in issue #1. Well, that and Kim Q. is an impulsive, reckless idiot. The problem is that she is similar to Dee from Rat Queens, a necromancer that left home to see more of the world. Also, Kim B.'s backstory takes up the majority of the comic. It does become a major plot point, but one can't help but feel it is getting in the way of other important story elements, such as world-building and the furthering of the El Scorcho subplot.
Furthermore, the use of Kim B.'s backstory to establish her as a hypercritical perfectionist goes out the window when she becomes just as reckless as Kim Q, but it's meant for comedy, obviously. People being bad at their chosen profession is always good for a chuckle. However, if there's too much of it without a counterbalance, then it can quickly get annoying and, for Kim B., leads to inconsistency. Not to mention, the Kims' behavior is a disservice and borderline abuse toward Tom Quilt. This makes the Kims unlikable until they realize it and adjust themselves (kind of). Fortunately, it does lead to an action-packed sequence, furthers the plot, and is a moment of personal growth for Kim B. Hopefully, it sticks in upcoming issues.
Kim Q. also gets some development in the story. Her father, Furious Quatro, leader of the Calatans, is introduced. It's clear that their relationship is rocky, especially given how Quatro calls Kim by her birth-assigned name instead of her real name. Kim & Kim is a queer-centered story, especially with Kim Q. and her transwoman identity. Consequently, queer issues come up. In this case, Kim Q. seems to be facing a common problem of trans-individuals when their family refuses to acknowledge and support them because they think it's an inconvenience. However, Quatro does show signs of regret and is trying, even while failing, to reconnect with his child. It's better than characterizing Furious as purely horrible and even hints at a possible reconciliation.
The story does struggle with balancing between developing characters and world-building, but what is present manages to work. Personally, I'd still rather have a bit more of world-building, yet I can't deny how fun it is. Anything is possible and no limits are established. It goes from a brawl in aquatic cities, to necromancy with all black clothing straight out of a goth girl's fanfiction, to battling Kaiju-size worms. This will be infuriating for hardcore world builders that have to make sense of everything. On the other hand, there's an excitement with a world that just throws in whatever it wants. It's more about the spectacle than concrete ideas. Honestly, this kind of imagination, wild and purely absurd, is twice as fun than lengthy explanations. Better to be wowed by the magic show than know the tricks.
Despite the flaws, Kim & Kim remains an enjoyable, fun queer sci-fi comic. The further development of character is welcome, and the world continues to be delightfully unpredictable and imaginative. The series looks set to be this year's cult classic, and I hope so, so much for a future sequel.