Review: A Thing Called Truth #1
What if you were whisked away from whatever your nine to five is and thrust into the middle of a world of car chases and adventure with an attractive stranger taking the wheel. That’s the premise of A Thing Called Truth, the new series from Alice in Leatherland‘s Iolanda Zanfardino and Elisa Romboli. The series has been described in promotional material as a queer road trip story, but that part really only comes at the beginning and end of the book. The lion’s share of A Thing Called Truth #1 establishes its protagonist, Dr. Magdalene Traumer, who is quite close to saving the world through science (And more importantly at an affordable cost to consumers), but hasn’t had a beer since grad school and is on the brink of divorce from her husband.
As shown from their previous work, Zanfardino and Romboli’s strength as comics creators is comedy, both of the verbal and visual variety. Elisa Romboli uses exaggerated gestures and piles on the papers and junk in Magdalene’s office to show how consumed she is by her work while Iolanda Zanfardino keeps the nature of her work vague to poke fun at how little laypeople know about scientific advances. (See everyone and their grandma becoming an epidemiologist during the COVID-19 pandemic.) There is a lot of satire in the early going as Zanfardino and Romboli riff off the the very real problem of pharmaceutical companies selling life saving medicine for exorbitant prices and keeping any real advances under wraps while making token shows of fighting climate change, racism, or whatever they think the cause du jour that will make their stockholders happy.
Along with its jabs at pharma bros, CEOs, and general one percenter parasites, A Thing Called for Truth #1 establishes Magdalene as both brilliant and messy. This characterization reaches its height during a bar sequence that is both the height of comedy and tragedy as Elisa Romboli’s crowded panels of figures nails the feeling of a noisy bar. She and Iolanda Zanfardino throw all reason out the window as Magdalene’s life work has been sold, and she can no longer access it. It’s like she has no purpose in life, and she turns towards the energy of a crowded bar to work some steam off. I can definitely relate as a few vodka crans and on a few hours of dance floor work wonders relieving my stress about work and life. However, from her wobbly movements and the whole topless thing, Magdalene is definitely out of her depth. Romboli makes her facial expressions just as passionate as she is when she’s talking about science, but gets rid of the whole center of gravity thing. She’s trying to cure burnout in a single night, and that usually doesn’t work out. (You need a whole vacation from the vacation.)
A Thing Called Truth #1 finds a nice balance between genre thrills, contemporary commentary, and slapstick comedy. Also, by being laser focused on Magdalene’s life and work, Iolanda Zanfardino and Elisa Romboli ensure that readers give a shit about her wild country spanning road trip. They leave a lot of cards on the table, and I’m excited to see them turned over as the series progresses.
Story/Letters: Iolanda Zanfardino Art: Elisa Romboli
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review