(re)Assignment is stirring up a lot of controversy. Written by movie director Walter Hill, the comic is an adaptation of the movie by the same name which is scheduled to be released this year. The reviews from the Toronto Film Festival where the film premiered were not kind. Hopefully, the comic will be able to flesh out some of the rougher edges.
Titan Comics is publishing this adaptation as part of their Hard Case Crime imprint.
Frank Kitchen is an assassin who has taken the wrong job. After killing a fashion designer who owes all the wrong people lots of money, Frank finds himself set up on his next job in San Francisco.
Frank wakes up aching, with his whole body wrapped in bandages. As he removes the bandages, he discovers that he is now in a woman’s body. It turns out that the fashion’s designer’s sister is a brilliant but sociopathic surgeon who performed this changes as part of a radical act of revenge.
The story is told in a very noir style with multiple flashbacks within the story. It is all pretty clear to follow. The logic, however is troublesome. Walter Hill has been a long time fan of comic books. That is clear in his movies, especially his cult classic, The Warriors. (Can you dig it?) He understood the visuals of the page and provides clear storytelling (or clear enough for a hard-boiled mystery.)
Visually, even a man, Frank is depicted in a slightly effeminate manner. He has a slight, but muscular, build and long hair pulled back into a pony tail. And as a woman, he looks a lot like the prison psychologist.
However there are a lot of issues with the story itself. The idea of punishing a man by turning him into a woman is problematic on a number of levels. I can understand why the transgender community is upset with the storyline. It is ripped out of the transphobic book of horror stories – that people who physically change the sex of their bodies are damaged and that the people who agree to perform the surgeries are crazed vivisectionists.
It strikes me as strange that this story which treats transitioning from man to woman as such a freak horror show act is being published at the same time as a book like Alters deals with the same subject matter so intelligently and with such understanding.
I will say that I found the art and color work to be the highlight of this book. The plays of the violent splashes of red against the dark and usually dull colors of the rest of the books are great and startling. The art really kept me going through this book. I am probably going to get the second issue with the hopes and Hill will be able to turn this around.
Writers: Walter Hill and Matz
Publisher: Titan Comics