Review - Heart Beat #1 (@boomstudios)

"The face of death turned out to be much prettier than expected."

Kids go through a lot in high school. Homework, social anxiety, bullying--anything and everything in between. In Heart Beat #1 from BOOM! Studios, one student is confronted with mortality itself. The issue is written and illustrated Maria Llovet and lettered by Andworld Design.

Eva, a high school outcast, finds herself witness to a horrible secret: the most popular boy in school enjoys the taste of blood and will kill to get his hands on it. Horrified and intrigued, Eva lets herself be pulled into Donatien's macabre world. He offers the escape she has been looking for but how much is Eva willing to betray her moral code in order to find something that gives her life meaning? And will she--or Donatien--ever find redemption?

The overarching premise of the issue (and series) is pretty interesting with Llovet looking to explore the more macabre side of life and how it impacts and already dark-minded individual. There's an inherent fascination in death and violence, both of which Llovet uses as motivators for Eva in finding her way through life. As far as protagonists go, Eva is a very powerful one who relies on a tremendous amount of angst to get through the issue. Llovet's script supports this approach very well, in that there's a significant amount of introspective dialogue that helps move things along. Llovet also manages to weave into the story a true sense of curiosity on the part of Eva, providing a relatable anchor point for the reader to grab onto as they read through.

Llovet's illustrations are extremely well-suited for the story she's crafted. Her linework has a coarseness to it that contributes well to the seemingly fragile nature of Eva herself. That roughness is buoyed by the cleaner panel arrangement throughout the issue, as Llovet provides a sense of organization to the artwork that keeps things relatively tidy all things considered. Eva is rendered with an attention to her lack of confidence, although Llovet shows her comfortable enough in some regards to venture out into the world with a unique perspective on things. The colors are very washed out throughout the issue, providing a dim glimpse at Eva's world.

Heart Beat #1 is a fascinating first issue that offers a glimpse at one individual's struggles to fit in before finding something intriguing that's almost the opposite of fitting in. Eva is an interesting main character and following along with things through her eyes provides a unique glimpse at her world. Llovet's script is very methodical without rushing through anything. Llovet's artwork is loose in a good way, accompanying the overall attitude of the main character and her instability. Heart Beat #1 is very much in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe in some regards, leaning into the darker side of life.

Heart Beat #1 is available November 20.