Review: Kim & Kim #1 is the Summer’s Funnest Comic
Just two badass ladies trying to get by, figure it all out, and maybe start a punk rock bakery on the way.
A cocktail made with two parts Tank Girl, one part Jem and the Holograms, and a splash of Lumberjanes-esque friendship, Kim & Kim from Black Mask Studios may be the funnest comic book of the summer. The story follows Kim D and Kim Q, a pair of planet hopping punk rock bounty hunters. Issue #1 introduces us to the Kims while they’re low on cash and decide to go after a huge payout. Their mission is complicated by the fact that they are trying to beat another team (Columbus and Saar) to the bounty. Saar and Kim Q have a complicated past, in part because they both worked with her estranged father.
Even though the Kims are on a wild interplanetary adventure, they’re also just two badass ladies trying to make enough money to buy a couple drinks and fill their gas tank. Just like the rest of us, they’re trying to get by and figure it all out. The back-and-forth between the Kims sounds like it could be any two friends laughing with (and at) each other. In one of my favorite lines from issue #1, Kim Q describes a bounty they’re pursuing “for a reward large enough to keep us in horror comics and boozemohol for five years.” Way to nail what we’re all looking for in a paycheck, Kim.
On the surface, Kim & Kim is a hilarious outer space road trip, but it’s also an important comic for LGBTQIA representation. Not only is one of the Kims trans, but creator Magdalene Visaggio developed Kim & Kim while she herself was transitioning. It’s clear that while the comic’s universe is otherworldly, the issues of identity being explored are deeply real and personal to both the characters and their creators.
In an interview with io9, Visaggio described her relationship with the character of Kim Q:
Kim Q is this realized human being who found herself in her transition and has not stopped trying to find herself. It’s not like she sat down, defined herself as a girl, and stopped developing right there. Kim Q provided me this vehicle to imagine myself, I dunno, a couple years down the line. Kim Q has a life. Kim Q hasn’t solved all her problems. Kim Q owns her past. It was kinda therapeutic, and it helped me get a little bit comfortable with the idea of transitioning, because one of my biggest worries was that it would overwhelm me.
What sets Kim & Kim apart is the authenticity in its humor and in the characters’ relationships. The best scene in issue #1 isn’t when the Kims are crashing through windows or using a guitar as a weapon or talking about starting a punk rock bakery (which Kim Q insists would feature cakes with “queeriarchy” written in fondant). Rather, the best scene is when our badass duo has an honest and open conversation on the roof of their van. In this handful of panels, Kim Q discusses her past and her struggles with identity, but in a way that never feels like forced exposition. Instead, the information is revealed to the reader the same way you would talk to a friend, as if we were sitting on that van, passing the flask with the Kims. If the series can maintain this balance of humor and friendship with its personal insight, it could easily be on track to becoming one of the best comics of 2016. With Kim & Kim, Black Mask Studios continues their winning streak post-4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, further cementing them as the new home for innovative indie comics.
Daryl Sztuka is a writer living outside Boston with her husband. You can find her reading comics, listening to records way too loud, and having intense staring matches with her cat, Agent Scully. Follow her on Instagram @girlseeksband and Twitter @girlseeksband.
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