Ready for a Road Trip?
A THING CALLED TRUTH is an engaging road trip story with two compelling female protagonists, that’s unique in a number of ways. Each character has quite a striking background that drives what they do. But because of how they meet, their pasts are not known to each other until late in this book. This gives even more power to the omniscience of the reader’s perspective; it is really powerful to know what we know here. It feels like what we’d call “the gaze” if this were a film. We are the camera’s lens, more so than either of the main protagonists ever are. No no no… no spoilers for you. You need this escape as much as the characters do, so get the book, please. I’m sure Image Comics and their Shadowline imprint representatives would agree.
By: Image Comics
Written and Lettered by Iolanda Zanfardino
Cover Art by: Elisa Romboli
First Rule: No Back Story
When the main characters and partners in road-trip “crime” do sort of break their self-imposed rule of silence about the past and one character’s story is shared, the creative team does it without exposition. Instead, they give us perspective through the use of artwork, with empty speech bubbles that are interestingly compelling and somehow draw you in even more. I found myself wondering if they were translucent on purpose to show the insight Dr. Mag was finally getting into Dorian, for example. Dorian and Mags (aka Doc) are equally stubborn in what feel like very different ways.
Anticipation Can Be Delicious
There are some romance tropes in terms of flirtation with the “gets, loses, gets” arc, but it’s not so over the top as to be really obvious. Why? Because these two live in their heads as they get to know each other on this trip, and therefore they live out the story through their interpersonal chemistry more than by diving in and out of more than that for the majority of the arc. This makes for a sort of delicious anticipatory question mark that I didn’t know I needed until I had it in my sights, soaking it in. It made me question my own personal boundaries and personality traits, and how they both propel and hold me back, as each character’s ideas of what they will and will not do, because of who they are, make for the same sort of “push and pull” dynamic across the chapters of A THING CALLED TRUTH.
Why You Need the Trade Paperback Format
Having read them both ways, as a collected Trade Paperback volume format (TP), and as individual floppies, I can say that I really enjoy them better as a binge in the TP. As I’m always excited to see, there are also a few extra treats in the area of artistic behind the scenes views, as well as a chance to see additional covers by Mirka Andolfo (a personal favorite) and Ivan Tao (who could easily capture my eye because of his take here). For someone like me who can seldom afford to collect most variant covers, I really enjoy this here, as I do in any Trade Paperback or collected volume that chooses to share them with the reader.
Give the Creative Team a Hand (in a Leather Glove)
When I first reviewed issue one of this limited arc of A THING CALLED TRUTH, I felt like I was reading “a fast and disorienting trip of the most enjoyable kind… by the creative team behind Alice In Leatherland.” (And yes, I really kept seeing “Wonderland” until about the third time I read that, and yes, it really is still on my Wishlist and a bit hard to find from here. Got copies for sale? Find me on Discord @TaraLovesNoir or Twitter @FilmnoirGrrl!)
It is exciting to see that A THING CALLED TRUTH seems to have delivered on the most promising dilemmas and situations that were set up in its first issue. If I’m really true to my nerdcore, a few Big Ideas from the first chapter, in particular, do come across a little like Red Herrings disguised as McGuffins. In other words, some things look like key plot issues but end up very secondary to the essence of the story. But they do serve as ways to set parts of the narrative in motion, which is really the only job of a McGuffin.
I can’t believe how curious I was as to how they would play out in the long term, in retrospect. Want to know which things did and didn’t matter? Read it for yourself. Didn’t I say no spoilers? Some could find this loss of original details to be highly distracting. For me, it was another creative way to avoid the tropes that go with most road trip adventures, especially ones with romantic overtones and undertones.
The truth about these loose threads (That Thing Called Truth, if you’ll indulge me?) maybe somewhere in between, especially because this is a story not originally written in English, and there are moments when something may be lost in translation. In fact, there are a few places where that hits me as a reader, but again, I have seen it as much more jarring in other books, so I have no substantive complaints here.
Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose
Some of the song I already knew,which let the lyrics fill my head. I wish there had been a few song codes so I could hear all of the songs. I know—I could have done lyrics searches, and I could have looked up every foreign phrase for translation. But not only do I really dig it when those QR codes are right there waiting for me while I read, I also feel like unless I’m reading something like Shakespeare, I should mostly be able to grab my book without any additional “props” and still get the idea, if I’m reading for the kind of enjoyment I got from this book. And yes, my high school literature teacher did find that annoying about me, so you may feel free to disagree with me too, of course. But enjoy this book I did; very much so.
This entire story arc had me full of questions. I really enjoyed taking this thrill ride with two compelling women, from beginning to cinematic ending. I still believe this book deserves some more attention. This was a welcome pleasure read for me—an escape I sorely needed. Maybe I was due for a reminder that miracles can happen for two people with good chemistry. I am usually drawn to the darker stuff. This TP is a thought-provoking and delightfully different ride from most I have had lately.
Are you ready to ride this thrill ride?!
Then what are you waiting for?
Don’t you want to know if you can handle A THING CALLED TRUTH? Take a time out and enjoy this well-crafted wild ride. Let’s gooooo!