Flutter is published by Dark Horse and written by Jennie Wood. This edition collects the complete series in three volumes. Whether you are a fan of the book already or are new to Flutter, you should grab this edition. It’s bursting at the seams with bonus content and features excerpts from the creators. These enhancements make for a package that feels important, comprehensive, and complete. Plus, once you open the book, it will be hard to stop, as it is paced in such a way that will captivate you until the bitter end.
Flutter is the story of a fifteen-year-old girl who can change into a young boy at will. Her father is somewhat of a domestic terrorist. Her school is filled with bullies, outsiders, and normies. Flutter takes a self-serious approach to a story that, on paper, reads like an '80s-style comedy romp in the vein of Just One of the Guys; however, Flutter handles its subject matter more like the FX show, The Americans. It is a brutal and probing look at gender and sexuality using a sci-fi premise as a red-herring.
The gender-bending protagonist, Jesse, is...complicated.
Jesse is a teenager. Jesse is a lesbian. Jesse is straight. Jesse is trans. Jesse is a boy. Jesse is a girl. But, ultimately, Jesse is a person - an individual. The genius of Flutter is how Wood is able to make Jesse all of these things, and all at once making each iteration believable. Jesse does not just pass as these things, Jesse is these things.
As a sensitive writer, I was nervous throughout this entire collection. I was afraid that it would be tone deaf, full of misinformation, or just plain bad; however, I realized part of the way through the reading that Flutter takes many big swings, and unlike a lot of comic books, the importance of the book lies in the swings, rather than where the balls end up. (This is a baseball metaphor.) I realized you don’t always need answers when presenting complicated questions of sexuality, especially in a time when our country is more divisive than ever. Sometimes, just asking the questions inherently triggers the answers.
For example, a question might be, “How can you exist as both boy and girl?” This answer is not easy or obvious, but we see Jesse being both. Thus, our subconscious lets us off the hook for that question. We just get it, because we can see it. Sure, it’s science fiction, but in a way it’s also “science non-fiction,” and boy-oh-boy I hope I just made up this term. I would Google it, but I don’t want to be disappointed.
The answer to Flutter’s questions will oscillate in various directions depending on where we are in the story. Multiple answers seem valid, and all of them circumstantial. The basic thesis of the book presents a compelling case for gender fluidity. Through Jesse’s painful arc, we see sexuality placed brutally on a spectrum for which one can swing through vast open space and land wherever they land despite social pressure.
There are also government conspiracies, espionage, and lots of explosions for the cheap seats!
Jeff McComsey is the artist on the book, and I will be honest, I was not psyched on his style for two whole volumes. By volume three, I came around and made peace with the fact that some artists just need to grow on you. It’s not definitely not bad. Here is a nice thing I will say: He had quite a job on his hands, making the protagonist work as both male and female, and he nails the aesthetic with flying colors. Both Jesses are recognizable, like brother and sister, like clones, but also different enough to punctuate the tone of the piece.
This is a great read. Take a break from reading superheroes punch each other to read a story where real-life heroes punch YOU, emotionally. Flutter is a complicated masterpiece, and we are lucky to have it.
Creative Team: Jennie Wood (writer), Jeff McComsey (art)
Publisher: Dark Horse
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