Teenage model Kay is just about to make her big break. She’s gotten accepted for a job in Japan and has even gotten her mother to agree to let her go. But on the morning she is to leave, she awakens to a gigantic mystery—she’s suddenly turned into a boy! Her boyfriend Adrian, who seems strangely unconcerned about her transition, convinces her that she’ll be able to hide her new gender, but are things really that simple? Who is she now that she isn’t a “she”?
The premise of InVisible is intriguing. Unfortunately, though, much of the interest that the unusual plot generates is undercut by lack of character development. Kay tells us that Adrian has a mysterious past, but other than his lack of reaction to her transformation (and the fact that he’s dating a girl way too young for him), he doesn’t really give off creepy vibes. Mostly he’s just set dressing, needed to make Kay look feminine. Other characters are equally flat or unevenly developed. Why would a mother who seems so overprotective of her daughter, let Kay sleep over at Adrian’s place the night before she flies off to another country? Why do the people who find out about Kay’s situation seem unsurprised? Is the modeling world so filled with cross-dressers that finding one isn’t a shock? And why doesn’t Kay do more than worry about her career when she turns into a boy? Personally I would have freaked out a LOT more and I wouldn’t just be worrying about looking pretty in front of a camera.
On top of the characterization problems, the plot isn’t developed much in this volume. Since it isn’t marked volume one, I assumed that it was a complete story. It is not, however, and that is frustrating. (Note to the author, ending your story with “The End?”is just annoying. Either end the story in one volume or continue it in another volume, but don’t tease your readers with a book with no end.) Readers looking for a yaoi story will be disappointed. Even though Adrian is more than happy to kiss Kay when she is a boy, her thoughts color the book and make it obvious that she is still very much female inside. The transgender angle is there, since Kay is now an girl trapped in a man’s body, but since she was originally a girl, it isn’t the positive transgender portrayal I’d love to see in comics.
Silvan’s art helps move the story from a complete failure to slightly less of a mess. She has a firm grasp of body proportions, which allows her to make Kay’s transition from female to male believable. As a boy, Kay is a bishonen, but Silvan sharpens her jaw line, flattens her mouth slightly, broadens her shoulders and narrows her hips just enough to give readers’ eyes the cues that allow them to see a boy, rather than a girl. It is subtly done and not something every artist could pull off. Things become more fantasy-like when Kay puts on makeup and girls’ clothes and magically looks female again, instead of just looking like a boy in drag, but that’s acceptable within the realm of comic storytelling. I do not, however, have an explanation for why Seven Seas had the creators make their book read right-to-left Japanese style. It is not a translated title, so that just comes off as a cheap gimmick.
Overall this isn’t a top-notch read. The lack of characterization and plot development cannot be saved by the decent artwork. My suggestion is to pass on this one. I certainly hope to see Silvan’s work again, though. She’s one to watch.
NOTE: This review was previously posted at an old blog of mine, Fujoshi Librarian.
Written by Tristan Crane; Illustrated by Rhea Silvan
Seven Seas, 2009