By Stefania Rudd and Jarrod Jones. Our Week In Review collects our thoughts on the comics that demand attention. Do you have a deep-rooted desire to know what we think about all your favorite books? Well. This is where you need to be.

HEARTTHROB-1-RETAIL-CVRHeartthrob #1

Oni Press/$3.99

Written by Christopher Sebela.

Illustrated by Robert Wilson IV; colored by Nick Filardi.

Letters by Crank!

JJ: Callie Boudreau once had a bad heart. Not to say that she was rotten, or vindictive, or even hateful. Actually Callie was once a lovely person who loved fully, but every one of her paramours saw her as a broken thing. A liability. But she never turned to anger, even when she was totally in the right to do so. So when I say “Callie Boudreau had a bad heart,” I mean it in the literal sense. Her heart was shit. It was literally killing her. And it was making what remained of her life a living hell.

Funny thing is, once she found herself a lucky recipient of a donor heart, at a time when heart transplants were still considered a “young science,” Callie not only survived the experience, she became… harder. She drank harder. She loved harder. And she pushed back. She would suffer the indignities of a lousy lover no longer. Her behavior shifted. She began to pick locks, and even more alarmingly, pick fights — with any souse she encountered at her favorite watering hole and even with her bosses at her stiflingly trivial job at an insurance firm. When Callie got her new heart, she became… bad. What’s more, her donor started whispering sweet nothings into her ear.

That’s the intriguing premise of Heartthrob #1, an all-new series by writer Christopher Sebela and artist Robert Wilson IV. If you didn’t know who Callie Boudreau was before picking up this book, you’ll know her intimately after you set it down — provided you ever do. The book’s style and substance keeps fine company; its story and artwork is evocative of other tremendous creator-owned crime sagas, primarily Fraction & Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals (it’s damn near impossible not to think about it), though Heartthrob pulls out ahead with a method to its own confident madness.

Thank the incredible team at work here: Robert Wilson IV is a pop wunderkind whose artistic diligence is a prime example of gorgeous sequential minimalism. Wilson’s work belongs on the most classic of band posters (which is funny, because he actually does those too), but here, he takes his craft and makes Christopher Sebela’s dialogue and actions sing with it. Wilson’s action has a touch of classic Marvel to it — you’ll find a bit of Ditko and Romita in his panels (especially when the fur begins to fly), and with Crank’s thoughtful hues painted all over them you begin to realize that Heartthrob is practically vibrating in your hands.

Christopher Sebela characterizes Callie as a person who’s adapting to a new outlook on life — she’ll knock your ass to the ground if you wrong her, though she’s still working out how to reconcile those burgeoning impulses. So it’s no wonder that she’d take refuge in the arms of a mere hallucination (or what might be the ghost of an actual criminal dreamboat) resting just behind her eyes. Is this crazy? A new twist on the concept of “mad love?” Maybe. But I’m going to need at least twenty more issues to properly suss it out.

8.5 out of 10

HQGH_Cv1_dsHarley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys #1

DC Comics/$3.99

Written by Frank Tieri and Jimmy Palmiotti.

Art by Mauricet; colors by Hi-Fi.

Letters by Dave Sharp.

SR: Poor, tired Harley needs a break from all the rock ‘em, sock ‘em of her daily life, but she also needs help tackling the neverending action that seems to find her. In issue #1 of Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys the miniseries kicks off with Harley and her newly organized gang of misfits on a mission to clean up Brooklyn, and they start with all those neck-bearded, flannel wearing, organic food-eating hipsters. After a takedown of the gentrifying scum, our beloved Harley is kidnapped and it’s up to the Harleys to find out who took her. However, it starts getting really real when the gang’s families and homes are threatened by the menacing force.

Writing team Frank Tieri and Jimmy Palmiotti start this adventure with spirited fast-paced humor, while Mauricet’s art pairs nicely with the overall energy and vibe of the book. With such a large cast of all-new characters, I appreciate the intro page that includes bios of each of the Harleys; and I think the diversity of the group make it very United Colors of Benetton—only with far less warm and fuzzy “We Are the World” type feelings. These minions are here to wreak havoc—errr justice—as only their fearless leader would desire. Now, if only they could figure out how to stay focused without their leader.

Being written from the perspective of Holly Hamden (the “coach” of the team) helps to give the story a nice flow without it leaning on Harley to do all the heavy narrative lifting. That might be intentional — the spotlight shift from Quinn to her merry team appears to be laying the groundwork for the Harleys to become a self-reliant team that’s encouraged to function without her. (Thus, leading towards a spin-off series? Probably.) Although the writing is solid with word choice and flow, I had a difficult time figuring out why this story needed to be told. It may be something that, through a series of future issues, will be revealed — but for now I’m curious as to the why of it all. (And don’t tell me it’s about money.) I also recognize this issue is to establish the Harleys with all their stereotyped Borough-ethnic personalities and quirks—from the way they speak to the vivid costume choices Mauricet has designed. However, because of all the superficiality of it all, Gang of Harleys feels like it’s missing its well-intentioned mark.

Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys #1 is a colorful addition to the popular character’s current roster of titles. Time will tell how this will all play out, especially with the introduction of a very twisted character that leaves us hanging at the end of the book with more questions. My hope is that as this miniseries continues, we get some clarity towards the plot and head towards a direction where a team blessed by Harley can develop and come into their own.

6.5 out of 10

From earlier this week — 

The Chilling ‘HOUSE OF PENANCE’ #1 Is ‘SUNSET BLVD.’ For The Horror Set 

Fawkes & Failla’s ‘JACKPOT!’ #1 Is Another Top-Flight AfterShock Debut 

‘MOON KNIGHT’ #1 Is A Manic Fantasy From A Beautifully Damaged Mind 

Agree? Disagree? What books are YOU reading this week? We want to know! Tell us about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.

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