Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Julio Anta
Artwork: Anna Wieszczyk
Colours: Bryan Valenza
Lettering: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 14th April 2021
While seeking asylum at the U.S. border, a young boy is torn away from his mother, sparking a change within him as his previously dormant superhero abilities come to the fore, sparking a change that will alter his life – and the life of his mother – forever.
On sale this week from Image Comics, HOME falls somewhere between superhero origin story and a stark damnation of a needlessly cruel asylum system that tears already terrified families apart. Series writer Julio Anta pours a lot of justified anger into these pages as Mercedes and Juan Gomez discover that the asylum laws have changed during their one-month journey fleeing gangland violence in Guatemala.
It’s an eye-opening account of the dehumanizing trap they find themselves in, and the creative team pull no punches in bringing the true horror of the situation to the page. The dialogue is solid enough, and it takes little time for us to become invested in Mercedes and Juan’s plight throughout the course of this issue.
On the visual side of things, Anna Wieszczyk and Bryan Valenza’s artwork feels perhaps a little cartoony given the weighty subject matter, but the pair still do a solid job of conveying all the necessary emotion during the key beats of this first issue. Mercedes’ heartbreak at the separation from her son is strikingly rendered, and it’s going to be interesting to see how Juan’s powers develop visually throughout the course of this five-part series.
Speaking of which, the final pages see the first glimpses of Juan’s powers manifest themselves, although the sequence is perhaps laid on a little thick for my tastes, with the insidious institutional horror being replaced by a snarling, tattooed and overtly racist guard. I appreciate the need for a more tangible antagonist, but given the already horrific situation, it probably wasn’t needed here.
All in all, this is an interesting, engaging first issue which plays its cards fairly close to its chest with the more super-powered aspects of its story, opting instead to focus on the harsh, heartbreaking realities of the situation Mercedes and Juan Gomez find themselves in. It also feels like it’s going to be a fairly polarizing release, if the torrent of partisan and borderline (and frequently less-than-borderline) racist comments on every social media post Image have made to publicize its release are anything to go by.
Well worth a look, and while I had a few minor niggles with the execution, the overall message is deeply relevant and I’ll definitely be sticking around to see how the rest of this series plays out.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]