Not all comics that tackle serious themes have to be downers. Sometimes, masking those ideas in a light coat of paint really helps soften the blow. However, you must balance the serious with the fun carefully. After all, make it too bright and bubbly, and the readers won’t grasp the severity of the subject at hand. KIM & KIM VOL 2: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD, written by Magdalene Visaggio with art from Eva Cabrera, has its own take on this balancing act. And predominantly Visaggio does keep the tone weighted as she should. Still, sometimes the language does distract from this otherwise phenomenal story set in the vacuum of space.

KIM & KIM VOL. 2: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD Which, Honestly, It Is

KIM & KIM is an ongoing series about two queer women (both named Kim) bounty hunting in space. It’s a seminal work in comic book history that actively showcases parts of the LGBT+ community that go underrepresented.

So what kind of trouble have the bounty hunters Kim D and Kim Q gotten themselves into in KIM & KIM VOL. 2: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD? Well, shortly after catching their perp, the Kims run into Kim D’s ex-girlfriend. Since the two did not break it off cleanly,  Kim D naturally isn’t too happy to see her. While Kim D deals with the reemergence of her ex, Kim Q is sorting out her relationship with Saar, a guy who works for her father. All the while, space mercenary antics make their payday take a bit longer than anticipated.

Image courtesy of Black Mask Comics.

Love is the driving force behind KIM & KIM VOL. 2: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD: love between friends, romantic love, and everything in between. I like how this comic addressed that the love between the two Kims is just as valid as any of their romantic connections. For instance, after the first large chase scene in the volume, the two Kims rest with one another and discuss their anxieties about the other two people they have feelings for. Kim Q states that Kim D’s ex never loved her as much as Kim Q loves her. These two will go to the ends of the earth for one another. You don’t really see friendship expressed as a form of love as much as it should be. And Visaggio tackles other forms of love as well. For example, what does bad love look like?

KIM AND KIM: Punk Trans Feminist Comics At The Eisners

I Wanna Know What Love Is

Throughout the volume, the Kims constantly gripe with one another about how each of their “loves” is unhealthy. Kim D’s ex is a manipulative woman who she needs to cut out of her life. When they were together, Laz (Kim D’s girlfriend) would pressure her into petty crime outside of bounty hunting. Essentially, she used Kim D for her own benefit until Kim D was no longer profitable.

On the other hand, Kim Q is still dealing with trauma regarding her family situation. By having a relationship with Saar, she seems to be avoiding that key issue. Not only does Kim Q’s father run the largest bounty hunter organization in the omniverse, but he’s also very resistant to her transition.

Both bigotry from parents and abusive relationships are things that people, unfortunately, deal with all the time. There’s never an easy solution either. The comic makes that abundantly clear since it refuses to bash either protagonist’s desire for the toxic person in her life.

Image courtesy of Black Mask Comics.

Certainly, the comic does an excellent job navigating the rapids of relationships. However, sometimes the amazing themes and characters falter due to some dialogue choices. Personally, I’m not against using slang to create a specific mood for a story. However, I felt that the slang used here would occasionally distract from the story at large. I’d spend more time scratching my head, trying to recount what a specific word means than focusing on what the characters are going through. It would just remind me of those Disney Channel sitcoms that pepper in hip lingo for the kids. I’m not saying that Visaggio doesn’t use the slang well, it just occasionally distracts from the overall story.

Why Talking About Toxic Relationships Matter

Discussing toxic relationships is always a tricky subject. Although abuse happens at roughly the same rate between LGBT+ and straight relationships, it’s less likely for queer abuse to get reported. By showing a manipulative relationship and how it negatively impacts those in it, Visaggio helps bring to light an underrepresented issue. Within her comic, she shows how difficult handling these things are. Yet she also shows that no matter how hard things get, it’s okay to rely on your friends for support when you need it.

Magdalene Visaggio Interview at Five Points Festival 2017

The Colorful World of KIM & KIM VOL. 2: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD

That isn’t to say the comic is all about these dark themes. It does a fantastic job of still telling a light-hearted and colorful story. Plus, it’s easier to swallow the heavier aspects of the story when Kim Q beats up baddies in between talks on relationships.

Even the art itself is lighthearted. I loved Eva Cabrera’s anime-inspired style. It really highlights the amazing fight scenes. When she draws Kim Q swinging her battle guitar around, it’s almost a visceral experience. You feel every skull bashing, every bullet that enters a person’s body. It helps that the comic is also very colorful. Each panel is bright and pops out, which helps you easily distinguish what’s going on. 

Image courtesy of Black Mask Comics.

In the end, KIM & KIM VOL. 2: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD is a fun time. It’s a complete story on its own, so readers who haven’t been following the series can still enjoy. Plus, it tackles some darker themes like abuse without dwelling on them too long. If it didn’t use so much slang that will probably become dated in a few years, it would be a perfect comic. Yet, despite this flaw, KIM & KIM VOL. 2 is still a fun, space adventure for anyone curious enough to read it.

KIM & KIM Vol. 2: LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD by Magdalene Visaggio and Eva Cabrera
This space odyssey gives us the dark side of love and the upside of punching masked villains in the face.
85 %
A fun space adventure that you'll fall in love with

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