Sweet Heart #1 Review

by Nick Devonald on January 22, 2020

Writer: Dillon Gilbertson
Artist: Francesco Iaquinta
Colors: Marco Pagnotta
Letters: Saida Temdfonte

So what is Sweet Heart #1? It’s the first in a five part mini-series from Dillon Gilbertson, published by Action Lab comics, with art by Francesco Iaquinta. It’s due to be released on 4th March 2020. It’s a series that is difficult to describe, which is one of its strengths. Because it doesn't have an easy elevator pitch it makes the reader want to keep reading to further understand what's going on. To make my job easier here’s the official solicitation:

“Being hunted is an everyday risk in Ellicott City and the town itself is designed to make life comfortable for its citizens while being actively stalked by the eerie, insatiable creatures that live among them. But when Ben is chosen by one of the creatures near his home, his mother struggles to cope with the certainty of her son's death.”

We don’t get much explanation of what these mysterious creatures are. They are an everyday fact of life for the citizens in Ellicott City who learn to go about their business around them. I don’t want to go into too much detail about it because one of the joys of this comic is finding out more as we go on.

This comic was quite a pleasant surprise. Well, perhaps pleasant is the wrong word since that’s definitely not how I would describe the content. The writing is clever, it reads almost like a kids book, due in part to the narrator in the beginning is only a child. This is quite a juxtaposition to the content however, as this is very much an adults comic.

The fact is reads like a kids book is definitely a strength of the story. That it can deal with monsters and horror and still be read like a childrens book is a testament to the strength of the writing and the talent involved. Dillon Gilbertson is a writer I would suggest keeping an eye out for. The narration is incredible, it gives it a really unique tone. Because it reads like a kids book the violence and scares hit harder when they do come and seem more brutal because of it.

This is a genuinely creepy comic. The writing is clever. It’s genuinely surprising and each of the twists and turns took me by surprise. The direction it takes at the end is not one that I saw coming. It succeeds in building tension up as the story goes on.

It’s also a very personal story. It focuses on one family in particular (the reason for this is part of the story, I won’t spoil it). And perhaps it’s this focus on one family which makes the reader root for them. There’s an element of unfairness about it all. You can almost hear them saying “why me?”.

The art is a great fit for the story as well. The monsters are scary, the violence when it occurs is bloody, brutal and gory, and even the quieter moments are ominous.

Tone wise the closest thing I can find to it is the classic movie “Pan’s labyrinth” By Guillermo Del Toro. There’s an almost child-like fairy tale, but for adults. It’s like the classic Brothers Grimm, not the toned down children’s versions but the brutal originals.

This is something horror fans are not going to want to miss. An adult fairy-tale, one of the only genuinely scary horror comics I’ve read, this is a must read for horror fans.

Our Score:


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