Publisher: Image Comics (Skybound Imprint)
Writer: Shawn Kittelsen
Artist: Eric Zawadski
Colourist: Michael Garland
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Release Date: 22nd January 2020
Heart Attack is set in a near-future dystopia where “Variants” (people displaying quote-unquote “super-powers”) are deemed dangerous and are monitored, segregated and in some cases simply vanish, and a group known as The Freebodies, strives for freedom, equality and the safe return of those incarcerated by the Variant Crimes Unit (VCU).
When a chance encounter brings Jill and Charlie together, they discover that while individually their variants are week, when combined their powers grow exponentially – a realisation which makes them a target for the VCU and potentially those they think they can trust.
Okay, it’s not a particularly new idea. Indeed, there are myriad stories out there about the different being persecuted, segregated and worse, but this is a reasonably fun take on what can be a very bleak topic and that’s a nice change of pace. The idea of people combining their powers in order to become something more is also not a new idea. Sex Criminals would be the first series that springs to mind for me, but again, it’s an interesting plot point that makes this a fun read.
Issue three brings us some not-so-startling revelations about Sefton’s grand scheme (think millennial Magneto), which in the long run are very likely to be more dangerous for Jill, her sister and her family than anything the VCU can throw at them. Charlie is also introduced to Jill’s inner circle, and while this doesn’t go quite as successfully as Jill had hoped, it does give Charlie the opportunity to open Jill’s eyes to the real history of the divide in Austin between the righteous and everyone else – not to mention the opportunity to come clean about his involvement with the VCU and the disappearance of Nona Shaker.
The plot is interesting without taxing your brain too hard, the protagonists are likeable and their motives and actions are ones you can get behind. I especially like Jill’s interactions with her younger sister Ash, which don’t feel forced and have that great embarrassing honesty that only 8-year olds can bring to an adult conversation.
Jill and her friends are quite naïve in their understanding of what is happening in the world, and their perception of how they can affect it by their actions. Their approach at times is almost like a teenager’s secret club rather than a revolutionary group, but at the end of the day, they are teenagers. While this issue will inevitably lead to a divide between Charlie and Jill, it’s obvious that Jill and her friends are going to need Charlie’s experience and more pragmatic view of the world if they hope to make any change or find out what has happened to their friend.
I’m also quite enjoying Eric Zawadski’s artwork on this series, particularly coupled with Michael Garland’s colours. While there’s nothing ground-breaking in what we get, I do like the character design, and, as with the writing, it’s interesting enough to keep us in the story.
I did rather like that the “Variants” are not shown as wildly different freaks of nature, an approach which helps to highlight that they are just human beings who are being persecuted unjustly. It also means that there could be revelations further down the line of people with variations in positions within the VCU that could either make them allies or much more dangerous threats to our protagonists.
Overall then, this isn’t breaking the mould in any way, but then again not every comic needs to be, and it’s easy to forget that fundamentally we read comics for entertainment. Heart Attack is a fun adventure with a very relevant premise in today’s society, so just sit back and enjoy it.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek