Saturday, 16 January 2016
Comic Review: Trans-Planetarium #1
Posted by Scott Malthouse
How would you feel if you lost everything because of who you are? In Trans-Planetarium, we immediately find protagonist in the midst of her answer to this question - bleeding out into a bathtub. It's a powerful image to kick off a book and it's that hook that grabs you and thrusts you into Alice's story.
Alice was born 'Alex', but from a young age realised that he was a female in a male's body. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, a young guy dressing in girl's clothes is going to be a to be a target for bullying and ostracization. As Alice is losing blood, we're given a glimpse of the past that led her to where she was right then.
Just as all hope seems to be lost, Alice is visited by what seems to be an angelic savior. It's not made entirely apparent in this first issue who this character is, aside from Alice's self-proclaimed 'teacher'. She works similarly to Ebeneezer Scrooge's ghosts, revealing a window of time to Alice to show all of human history- the sadness, the joy, the death and so on. Through this, we see that Alice was assaulted by a guy she met in a bar once he realised that she was transgender. We see various scenes where Alice is given a pretty raw deal through the shunning of her peers and even the loss of her job. Ultimately, the angel explains to her that through the challenges we find the beauty in life - a positive message and an important one.
Trans-Planetarium is written by Phillip "Flip" Knox, who can convincingly structure an effective narrative, although the dialogue does feel slightly rough around the edges at the moment with some clumsy phrasing - but it still works.
The artwork by John Abiera is composed well, with some genuinely good character expressions. While the colours are a tad flat, they are still nice and vibrant, making the book pop.
Trans-Planetarium ends with a good cliffhanger, but also works well as a stand-alone piece. The thing that really stands out is that it's a book with a trans protagonist dealing with trans issues. This isn't something we necessarily see in mainstream comics, so it's great to see a trans-positive book out there. Although it can come off a little heavy in parts (there's a particular scene where a doctor refers to Alice as 'it' that feels slightly forced) it's wonderful to see that this kind of comic exists and the creative team must be applauded for it.