It’s sort of inevitable that Heartthrob gets compared to Sex Criminals. The two books do feature around love and crime with a side of fantasy. However, issue #2 of the Oni Press series from Christopher Sebela, Robert Wilson IV and Nick Filardi pulls itself further away from these comparisons as we learn more about Callie and Mercer.
Callie’s story definitely started out as something you’d read in a book like something like Eat, Pray, Love. Where after years of living with a heart defect and getting the miracle surgery that may only give her “five good years,” she decides to go on adventure to really live life. Except that adventure is to learn how to be a criminal from her boyfriend who is the ghost of the man Callie’s heart transplant comes from. Romance and soul searching needs more crime anyway.
However, even then, the story isn’t so much about the crime as it is about Callie trying to figure out just who she is after getting a new heart and quitting her job. Full of enthusiasm and uncertainty, Sebela writes Callie as a character that is so ultimately relatable that even if you’re not a heart transplant patient or a natural criminal mastermind like she is, you still understand just what goes through her mind and her heart. This was a definite strength Sebela had writing Mali in the tragically cancelled Welcome Back and it’s nice to see it carry over to this book.
The cast expands a bit in this book as Callie and Mercer hire a woman named Scout and a man named Otto to be a part of their crew. The design for Scout, the getaway driver, is especially eye catching, with her short hair, aviator shades, and leisure suit. Much like Callie, I was thinking outloud of how cool she was from the outset of her introduction. This is where Wilson and Filardi work so well together. That, and just the overall feel of the book. It would be so easy for this book to slip into the pastiche of 1970s stereotypes in terms of appearance, but Wilson and Filardi keep it organic.
Even with this new cast of characters working in, Callie and Mercer are still at the heart of it as their relationship blooms with all the weirdness, crime and mental uses of ‘The Chain’ by Fleetwood Mac that comes with it.
Of course, most good love stories end somehow and we might just be seeing the end of it play out a bit in the last page of the story. The chain does break when you’re no longer in the shadows, it appears.
As Heartthrob #2 expands the universe it lives in, we start to understand just what goes through Callie’s mind as she turns to a life of love and crime. Even in the strangest of circumstances, her story is one that any reader can understand on a personal level. Between Sebela’s heartfelt writing as Callie learns the ropes of the criminal life and the gorgeous 70s artwork from Wilson and Filardi, Heartthrob #2 is about the strength of the heart just as much as it is about vulnerability.
Story: Christopher Sebela Art: Robert Wilson IV and Nick Filardi
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.25 Recommendation: Buy
Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review