Sweet Heart #2 Review- Nothing Sweet Here…
Sweet Heart #2
Writer: Dillon Gilbertson
Artist: Francesco Iaquinta
Colorist: Marco Pagnotta
Publisher: Action Lab Danger Zone
Printed comics may be at a standstill as of now, but Action Lab is still cranking out their “digital first” titles, helping to fill the void just a little bit.
I had the opportunity to read issue one of “Sweet Heart” after picking it up off of the shelf and it left me immediately wanting more of that uneasy feeling I was left with. Without spoiling too much, issue two picks up with our survivor from the first issue, Maddie. Maddie is taking part in what seems to be an ordinary day at Elliott City High School, except ordinary would have to mean being taught how to avoid unkillable monsters that stalk their target, or “tag”, until they get the opportunity to devour them and move on to the next of kin. There are two known types of these monsters. The first being “Bruisers”, which happens to be the subject material for class on this particular day, or even more so, entire year. Maddie expresses a concern with her teacher that maybe they are spending too much time learning about how to survive a Bruiser, the easier of the monsters to avoid and even possibly survive, and not enough time learning about the more dangerous version, the “Stringers.” Her reasoning for her outburst isn’t because she’s an overachiever by any means. She just so happens to be a “tag” herself thanks to the events of issue one, and her monster just so happens to be a Stringer, the more relentless of the two types. Her teacher shuts down her request of essentially learning how to stay alive because the school demands otherwise, even knowing Maddie’s particular situation, and proceeds on while the rest of the school taunts her certain doom. Even her grandmother, who is the tag of a Bruiser of her own, and her newly widowed mother, go on to give her grief for coming too close to her monster due to the fact that she hasn’t been drinking the tonic to repel the creatures frequently enough. The consequences to the family bickering lead to the grandmother pondering over the worthiness of her life at this point as her Bruiser ominously lurks over her in an empty kitchen, once again leaving me with a feel of sickening dread for what’s to come.
Horror writers seldom leave me with the sense of uneasiness that Dillon Gilbertson has managed to do in two issues now with “Sweet Heart.” Although this second one wasn’t nearly as violently dramatic as the last, I still had the same feeling of dread throughout the entire book. Admittedly, I was expecting this to end with no survivors based off of what I read in issue one, but I was very pleased to see that we may actually have a set of solid characters to follow now. Dillon has created a world that can live on for an eternity with this idea of a unkillable monster stalkers, and his perfect delivery only makes this incredible idea that much more enjoyable as a fan off horror.
When it comes to a horror comic, the art can completely make or break the tone the writer is attempting to deliver. Iaquinta and Pagnotta produce the most perfect style for this particular type of horror with scratchy lines and cold tones to accent the dark, sickening feeling I would imagine is being striven for. The sudden appearances of the monsters are almost equivalent to a cinematic jump-scare with how they are all drawn. The art helped compliment and carry the story so well it felt more like I was watching a horror comic, and not so much reading one.
It’s safe for me to say that not only is “Sweet Heart” officially on my pull-list, assuming that printed comics start up again, but I’ll also be reading the physical copy again as soon as I can get my hands on it. I love going into something expecting one thing, and then getting something else that ends up being even better than expected. Initially, I was anticipating a series of one-shot deaths with the monster essentially being the main character, but after following Maddie in her world for just one issue, I am fully on board with her being a steady figure in this story. This book has not only skyrocketed to the top of my horror comic list, it has also put this entire creative team of Gilbertson, Iaquinta, and Pagnotta on my creator radar in a big way.