"Sweet Heart #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Dillon Gilbertson
Illustrated by Francesco Iaquinta
Colored by Maco Pagnotta
Lettered by Saida Temofonte
2018, 33 Pages
Imagine living in a world with literal monsters lurking in the shadows wherever you go. They'll leave you alone for the most part. You stay out of their way and they'll stay out of yours. Sometimes, one of them will take an interest in someone and that's where the terror hits. You can keep it at bay with some special medicine, but it will always be able to find you. The moment you slip up is when it will attack and consume you.
I feel like a dope for not noticing that the monsters in Sweet Heart are a metaphor for disease. Once I learned that, it's so obvious that I'm hitting myself. These creatures can strike without warning and once you're marked, they will never go away. Writer Dillon Gilbertson's story stands well on its own, so this additional layer only adds to it.
We don't know much about the monsters in Sweet Heart or why they can't just be killed. That is a little frustrating, but not enough to take away from the story. I don't care much about where they come from, but I am very curious as to why these people can't just murder one.
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Artist Francesco Iaquinta's designs for these creatures are absolutely terrifying. They're a little reminiscent of the Creature from the Black Lagoon with an inhuman, emotionless look to them. The one that marks the main character, Ben, has these wisps of hair on its head, making it look like a horrifying drifter out for blood.
Since this creature has marked Ben, it is a constant presence in his life. You see it lurking nearby for years. He'll see it in the mirror or standing menacingly at the edge of his yard. There's one particularly frightening sequence where it gets into his house at night, creeping up to his bed, ready to strike.
Colorist Maco Pagnotta gives the creature glowing red eyes that cut through the darkness in the most unsettling way possible. Imagine your window slowly opening in the middle of the night and only seeing these blood-red eyes peering through. The monster has a sickly green skin that's almost translucent in texture, lending to the disturbing aspect of its very existence.
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Adding to this is the sound it makes. It's a kind of scream, drawing out Ben's nick name from his mother “Sweet Pea” in this eerie fashion. The words are extended and spread out across the page in this jagged font, like each letter is a guttural growl. Letterer Saida Temofonte does a brilliant job with this.
Ben's life is changed due to this mark. He can't be a normal kid because he has to drink a special cocktail of medicine every four hours to keep the monster at bay. Again, I feel like an idiot for not realizing this as a metaphor for disease. Anyway, Sweet Heart jumps forward in time and we see certain aspects of his sheltered life as his mother works to protect him at all costs. It's heartbreaking that they both had to go through that just to live another day.
Sweet Heart hits the ground running with an incredible debut issue. It reminds me a bit of Wytches, which is certainly not a bad thing. This carves its own trail with a creepy life-and-death struggle that's sure to get under your skin.
Sweet Heart #1 can be purchased on ComiXology.