Chromatic key tells the story of five teenagers who are chosen to save the world from an impending alien invasion.
chroma key, by Brandon Dumas, is an LGBTQ drama. It centers on five childhood friends, Kim Koizumi, April Robinson, Fuchsia Simmns, Parker Flores, and Emily Ivanov, who enjoy a live superhero show. They are recruited by an alien refugee named Luna, who tells them to defeat a bloodthirsty monster and work to defend Earth, while reconciling their friendship with each other.
As a warning, this review discusses some spoilers for Chromatic key! Please also note that this review is about trauma, transphobia and child abuse.
The story begins with Kim, April, Fuchsia, Parker and Emily watching a live superhero show, Powerful super fighters fighters, as children. Years later, something unites all the protagonists (who haven’t seen each other in years): a set of rings. The story continues from there as they try to cope with this new responsibility and dress up to fight aliens after meeting a friendly alien named Luna.
Chromatic key has compelling characters and storylines. I especially like LGBTQ stories, especially those with characters with superpowers such as Steven Universe, young judge, and The hollow. This story has similar elements, with the characters having to use their powers, not even knowing if they even want to use them or not, and a being trying to guide them in using those powers, much like Light Hope in She-Ra and the Princesses of Powerbut also having similarities with the Japanese Tokusatsu tradition.
It’s funny that this guide, Luma, has been a fan of the protagonists’ favorite show since they were kids. She shapes their powers and costumes like that, around a substance known as chroma. I liked how she gave them a choice and didn’t force them to be heroes, saying she wouldn’t blame them if they walked away. They all agree, though some obviously agree more willingly than others, later testing their powers.
This is supported by wonderful illustrations and backstory. Reminds me of the royalty that fled Acardian 5 in 3Below, or Ilana, Lance, and Octus fleeing their homeworld of Galaluna, or even Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. It was interesting to see Luna take inspiration from a fictional show to fight against the invading bloodthirsty monsters, the Uorari. That’s not the typical reason some will fight bad guys.
It is also mysterious that she dreamed of the protagonists, although the reason for this dream is not explained. The monsters remind me of the Nemesi in generation: LOCKthough they probably aren’t digital copies of someone like on this show.
We take a look at the mysterious Black Ranger, also known as Edgelord. We see a being that looks like Luna saying everything is going as planned. If the comic continues, it will be interesting to see this revealed in the future. Otherwise, it will remain an intriguing mystery!
There are several different characters in the main cast. For example, 17-year-old Kim is romantic and asexual, Emily is a deaf person who uses sign language, and April is a lesbian who has a crush on an older woman. Emily has a crush on Adrienne Oladipo from the start of the series, who has progressive hearing loss and can also use sign language. Both are bisexual or pansexual and show up in a clearly romantic relationship.
Emily was born with Waardenburg Syndrome Type II, characterized by moderate to profound hearing loss. His hearing loss is moderate. This means that, according to Dumas, “with a hearing aid she can follow conversations reasonably well, but not perfectly, especially when the person speaking is not facing her”, and can engage in verbal speech but prefers sign language.
There is ongoing tension between Kim and April, as they fight against each other, and she has anger management issues. Kim, who comes from a family with abusive parents, bonds with her.
There are two main trans characters. Parker describes their sex as the beginning of the Guns & Roses song, “Welcome to the Jungle”. They deal with transphobia and have a snake. Fuchsia is a pink-haired trans woman who also suffers from transphobia and whose father is violent.
Parker and Fuchsia are undoubtedly traumatized by their near-death experiences, just like the other Mighty Rangers. Even so, they unite around their shared experiences as superheroes in this sci-fi story.
As Kim helps bring the group together, she begins to pick on Fuchsia, who is also non-binary, by using the wrong pronouns for them. The group begins to fall apart. Hopefully, future parts of the comic will also expand on Emily and Adrienne’s relationship, with Emily thinking of inviting Adrienne into the group.
Chromatic key, is written by non-binary writer Brandon Dumas and illustrated by Laura Reyes (also known as BioAtomic), a non-binary Mexican-American character artist. The series has over 130 episodes. Reyes also has a young adult LGBTQ sci-fi drama webcomic named Don’t worry Teri!while this series is the first published work for Dumas.
Chromatic key began publishing on Line Webtoon in April 2018 and is in book form. It should not be confused with the electro, ambient and trip hop group of the same name. It refers to other series, like transformers, the Power Rangers, new She-Ra, Steven Universeand adventure time.
The series has been on hiatus since June 2021. Dumas said she won’t be “coming back for a while” due to personal circumstances. Dumas discussed the subject at length in a May 2021 interview with estaban, a queer comic book enthusiast.
Chromatic key is available to read on the Webtoon Canvas and Tapas.
You can find Reyes on TwitterInstagram and Tumblr, and Dumas on Twitter, Tumblr and Tapas. You can also consult the Official Twitter for comics and support comics on Patreon. You can also buy volume 1 of the comic on IndyPlanet or ask for commissions from BioAtomic.
For more great webcomic recommendations, check out our Wednesday Webcomics Archive!
Author: Burkely Hermann
Burkely is a declassified document indexer by day and a fan fic writer by night. He recently earned an MLIS with a concentration in Digital Preservation from the University of Maryland. He currently voraciously watches anime series and reads too many webcomics to rely on Webtoon. He enjoys swimming, hiking and researching his family roots in his spare time.
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