Heart Attack #1 (Kittelsen, Zawadzki, Garland, Brousseau)
In a future where a cure for a global plague caused the birth of “Gen-V” genetic variants into the population, people with powers are hunted and heavily regulated by the VCU. When fairly weak variants Charlie and Jill meet and touch hands, their powers suddenly flare to life. Will Jill and Charlie be able to escape the police and cause real change?
More and more these days I see complaints and questions from people that begin to blend together; “when did comic books become so political?” they ask. Disregarding the fact that comic books have been political since the Superman–a creation of Jewish immigrants–, comic books have been progressively and blatantly political even in their most popular forms. What is Captain America if not political. The X-Men? The Watchmen? As fans of all of these books, I can say with confidence that Heart Attack is following in a long and proud tradition of politically active comics.
The writing is generally sharp and relevant to arguments over contemporary respectability politics versus direct action activism. The framing of political activism through a lens of near future modernity is a smart decision on Kittelsen’s part. While the placement of future America is clear, it is still familiar enough to a modern audience so that it is not overwhelming.
The relatability to the treatment of minorities in America becomes stronger with the actually racially diverse cast of characters; a feature which I often find lacking in, say, older X-Men books. The clear parallels to actual political movements and causes are also refreshing. This is a book that isn’t afraid to say what it stands for in any way.
The characters of Jill and Charlie, while not entirely heroic, are relatable; they seemingly have their own goals, their own plans, and their own desires for their futures. Charlie’s timidness contrasts with Jill’s more boisterous personality. It’s a change of pace too, to see such roles reversed on the spectrum of gender.
The art of the book is sharp with excellent colors. I am personally reminded of McKelvie’s work on The Wicked and the Divine, which is a compliment of the highest order coming from me. The character design is incredibly effective, especially for Jill and Charlie, two incredibly contrasting characters. Hats off to Zawadzki for the sheer detail work on Jill’s dress, which remains consistent throughout multiple panels; such a feat requires insane amounts of artistic talent.
Heart Attack #1 is a politically charged, current events driven homage to both the X-Men and the real life struggle of minorities in America. With expert handling, it could lend new life to a genre of politically driven superhero comics.
Heart Attack #1: Comics as Politics
- Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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