Collecting issues of Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield 1-4, Volume Two follows the Eisner-nominated first run proving once again how deserving it is. It is deeply honest, rebellious, fun, and LGBTQ-positive in a way that is still unfortunate rarely seen. Skipping forward a few years, Kim D has a very cool new haircut with a more subdued look now while Kim Q has even more colorful details that make her stand out, but these are still the girls we love and it is their deep bond that makes this such a great read.
I normally save talking about the extras for the end of my reviews, but the editorial essays by Elle Collins, Natalie Reed, Nyri A. Bakkalian, and Sam Riedel really capture what makes this series so special and helps those that are unaware of the issues it takes on understand the larger project. Elle Collins’s piece, “The Queer Universe,” does a very good job of pointing out the way in which queer characters are relegated and contained in the comic world and how that is not the way that queerness is lived. Just as heterosexual people have exes, crushes, and complicated friendships, so to queer people and this void is filled by works like Kim and Kim. Natalie Reed, in her perfectly titled essay “Living in the Gutters: Authentic Queerness in Comics,” points out an example of these broader world building aspects from issue #1 where Kim Q’s dad uses her dead name and the image shown is prior to her transition. Reed argues that this not only communicates a huge amount of information to the reader, comics are uniquely able to allow the reader to linger on this painful moment as long as they desire. The title alone should suffice when it comes to an explanation of “In Praise of Messy: Why Queer Stories Matter,” but it serves as a good reminder that imperfections are just as important to the project as the perfect moments. Finally, “How to See the Future” brings in a very personal story and references witches. There is a long standing connection between these two groups with many queers identifying as witches and many witches identifying as queer. This is one the things that I love seeing in the comics and I am glad it is mentioned here too. I was very pleased to see that all of these essays were included as these types of individual extras don’t always make it in collected volumes making this a particularly well done collection.
It is not just the fact that this is an important LGBTQ inclusion in comic canon that makes this series great, the writing is absolutely amazing. Magdalene Visaggio perfectly balances crazy action with deep character driven storylines in a way that is simply a joy to read. The main driving force is the relationship between Kim D and her ex-girlfriend Laz, who we are told we hate. The way that Visaggio talks to the reader makes this collection very accessible even to those who have never read an issue of Kim and Kim as “little bit of background” is often given. A big part of why this is so effective is Visaggio’s casual quirky tone as is seen when she describes a location as, “Pretty much literally hell.” That said, it is also very grounded with the inclusion of little things like them having to live off of Thing-O-Soup to afford a remote tracker. The most grounding aspect of all is the friendship between the fighting Kims. Their love is so clear and, even when they are having issues, each of them knows the other enough to understand the situation and be empathetic towards each other. Another thing that I absolutely love is how multicultural and diverse the world they live in is. This science fiction multiverse is what we hope the future will be like regardless of what all those old white dudes in the 60s assumed it would be.
Eva Cabrera’s illustrations are also very well done. The way that each of the characters is drawn feels completely unique and whole. Just looking at them tells a lot about who they are with each Kim standing out from the background in a way that fits their personality. Furthermore, their facial expressions perfectly capture what the girls are feeling, which is so key in this more emotionally charged run. There is almost an anime like feel to their hair and their eyes and the moments where they are crying really brings this out. It is a nice touch as this brings in that multicultural vibe that is a part of the world-building in this series. Cabrera really shines in the action shots with the action lines and framing spotlighting the just the right parts. I just love the way that the background sometimes fades out during these moments as it makes them feel that much more intense, but some of that is Claudia Aguirre’s colors. There is an almost day-glo like palette that she works with that brings such a vibrancy to each page. Even the letters done by Zakk Saam carry this energy with a lot of bright pinks and blues. It is also worth noting that the collection includes a cover gallery showcasing Tess Fowler’s cover art for each issue. These are all amazingly detailed and emotionally thematic with the covers for issues 3 and 4 standing out in particular.
Volume Two showcases everything that Kim and Kim can be and it is so emotionally rewarding. If you want to watch two badasses being badasses in every way, this is the series for you. Even if you haven’t read any other part of the series, it is still enjoyable all on its own due to the way that the reader is given all important context information. This is not only an important series, it is great series. We could all stand for a few more glitter castles in our lives and this proves that it is indeed possible to build one.
Written by: Magdalene Visaggio
Art by: Eva Cabrera
Colored by: Claudia Aguirre
Edited by: Katy Rex
Lettered by: Zakk Saam
Cover by: Tess Fowler
Cover colored by: Matt Wilson