A little over eight months ago I called for Chris Hazelton to stop spinning the wheels of his transformation webcomic Misfile and finally start moving forward with the relationship between the comic’s two protagonists, Emily and Ash. Well, actually I just called for Hazelton to start moving the comic forward, seeing that we’ve had a lot of nothing going on for several years now, but seeing that the angelic subplot is proceeding at the rate of the heat death of the universe, we don’t have much else but Emily and Ash’s relationship left to kick things into high gear. On the surface, it might seem Emily kissing Ash would be just the catalyst the comic was looking for.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s so simple. We’ve already seen Ash’s reaction to assertive women (what with her freaking out over Missi trying to be the dom to Ash’s sub – and yes, in some ways I get the feeling Ash is submissive when not behind the wheel of an automobile, though it’s more likely she hesitates when in territory that’s unfamiliar to her); while Ash has strong feelings for Emily, I can’t help but think that she’s going to freak once more and things will return to the glacial pacing with two steps back for every step forward. Still, I suppose there are a couple of things different between Ash’s relationship with Missi… and what she has with Emily.
For one thing, there is a greater level of intimacy between Ash and Emily than existed with Missi. Emily knows Ash’s deepest secret (that she’s actually a guy trapped in that body), and has been with him for every step of the way. In addition, she just admitted she wanted to kiss Emily, and was afraid to. Which makes for an interesting question: how would male Ash handle a relationship with an Emily that was two years older? Would he freak out at Emily’s assertiveness just now? Would he have freaked over Missi, despite the fact there are some strong hints of “preordained” mixed with that relationship? It’s not something we’re likely to ever see, but it’s interesting to think about.
Ultimately, when Misfile eventually draws to a close, we’re going to have one of two options occur. The more likely (in my mind) is that Ash finally accepts she’s going to be a girl for the rest of her life and reluctantly accepts this fate so long as she’s got Emily with her. If you consider Ash to be a per-surgery female-to-male transsexual (and some people do view her from this perspective) then it makes some sense. Given that there are some aspects of her life that are better due to Ash having been born a girl (such as her closer relationship with her mother, among other things), and it seems likely this will be the eventual outcome of the comic.
The alternative actually has some interesting story potential to it, with Ash becoming a guy once more. As a girl, Ash has been struggling to reconcile what her male memories of history were, compared to what actually happened (and interestingly enough, Hazelton didn’t resort to the old standby of a diary or journal). How different would Ash’s life have been as a man? At the very least, things would have gone differently with “Kamikaze Kate” and it’s doubtful Ash would have had a closer relationship with his mother. And is being a male once more worth the price if he doesn’t have Emily in his life?
Of course, this is a moot point due to the glacial pacing of the comic. There is a multitude of plot points at this point that even if Hazelton picked up the pace, it would still take years for everything to come to a close (assuming he didn’t come up with additional threads to branch out from). And I will admit, there are times I only read Misfile because it’s on my bookmarks list. Other people I know have quit reading because the comic is going nowhere and has been stuck there for a while now. I only hope that Hazelton does the unexpected (for me at least) and uses Emily kissing Ash as the catalyst to shift the comic out of neutral and finally start moving forward again.