Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Ballad of Harper Kelly 2 – Metamorphosis by SturkWurk and Roseleaf (#comics #feminization #scifi)

I am delighted to introduce a new name to our weekly showcase of illustrated delights, SturkWurk, who is best known for his work at TGComics.

The Ballad of Harper Kelly is a premium 4-part comic, coming in at over 1200 pages, that is now available as a complete set for your reading indulgence! If you missed my review of the first issue, Demotion, SturkWurk and Roseleaf opened the series on an ominous note. There was a suspicious promotion, a police investigation, nanobot-driven gender transformation, and the suggestion of an even larger plot behind it all. It was a gorgeous comic that told a sexy, mysterious, and slightly futuristic tale.

The second chapter, Metamorphosis, opens with a Harper very much in flux. He is starting to feel like a woman (as the opening erotic dream so explicitly demonstrates) but he still thinks and acts very much like a man (as the naked online gaming session, with the webcam-hijacking trolls, reminds us). That internal conflict keeps the story grounded, and allows it to explore some serious issues of toxic masculinity.

The spa day his girlfriend treats him to is a nice touch, being both a very feminine experience and something that helps to relieve his anger and frustration, and the makeover - followed by eating burgers at the mall in full evening gown attire - keeps that internal conflict going. That aspect of the story reaches something of a climax (pun intended) when his girlfriend treats him to a night of lesbian passion, all while a B-movie horror soundtrack continues to play in the background. It is a cleverly constructed story that never allows you to forget Harper's situation.

I do not want to say a lot about the rest of this issue, but fetishists and sci-fi fans will both find more to love about this installment, with the nanobots giving her bosses total control, allowing them to alter her clothes, freeze her, silence her, and even morph her appearance into that of a completely different woman, making it that much easier to force her compliance.

Visually, of course, this is another gorgeous comic with some lovely design choices and stylistic flourishes. The hazy look and smoky frame of the opening dream is beautiful; the focus on Harper at key moments, blurring everything around her, really draws the eye; the makeover transitions are perfect, with black eyes-closed panels separating before from after; the subdued lighting of date night sets the perfect mood; and the contrast in styles, colors, lighting, and more between the settings is so photo-realistic, you almost stop appreciating it.

Okay, one last word on the story - the final pages of Metamorphosis are absolutely fantastic, mirroring the tease of secrets from Harper's girlfriend, and the tease of inappropriate behavior from Harper himself. Gender terms begin to get confused, roles begin to blur, and questions about motivation and desire rise to the top.

Douglas Sturk (SturkWurk) is a writer and illustrator. He creates web comics for and, and can be hired for commission work.

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