Comics may have become popular off the backs of superheroes, but there's always been a place for more intimate, personal stories, too. In I.D., her short story originally serialized in the pages of ISLAND magazine and available on its own now, Emma Ríos explores questions of propriety, identity, acceptance, and more.
In I.D., Ríos focuses on three people—Noa, Charlotte, and Mike—who wish to undergo an experimental, cutting-edge treatment that would allow their consciousnesses to be transplanted to another body. Their reasons differ, ranging from boredom to desperation to hope, and Ríos lets us take a peek at their motivations by way of a series of conversations between the three as they discuss the possibilities and dangers of the body transplant procedure.
The dialogue is intimate and layered, urging readers to dig deeper and really think about the gap between what the characters are saying and what they actually mean, but the quality of Ríos's art cannot be understated. Body language is big in I.D., with characters emoting via their posture and even how they stand in relation to others. The entire book is rendered in varying shades of red, from backgrounds to shadows to dialogue. The result is a book that feels something like a zine, small and personal, but is just different enough from your usual expectation of a comic to feel a little unsettling, too.
I.D. isn't just a conversation, however. The inner turmoil of the characters is reflected in the turmoil of the society they live in, which is undergoing violent upheaval as it attempts to define itself. That upheaval intersects with Noa, Mike, and Charlotte's story, and how each of them reacts in a moment of excitement says a lot about not just who they are, but who they want to become.
This is the kind of book that's great for pointing out just how far comics can go and how far they have come. Ríos takes a simple idea, a heated conversation in a coffee shop, and expands it into something that explores our internal mixed feelings about things, the way we view identity and death, and even plain friendship over the course of it's eighty-plus pages. Ríos is telling a human story in a fantastic setting in I.D., and she absolutely sticks the landing.
I.D. is available now.