Sweet Heart is a new series from Action Lab – Danger Zone that takes place in Ellicott City, a town where being hunted is an everyday risk. The issue is written and created by Dillon Gilbertson, with art from Francesco Iaquinta, letters by Saida Temfonte, and colors by Marco Pagnotta. In the last issue, Gilbertson laid out the rules of his series, explaining how monsters work, the town, and how humans live with them. As a first issue, it took time to set in the world of the series and at the very end shocked you by killing off the character who seemed to be the protagonist. Taking place after the first issue, Sweet Heart #2 offers up a new layer to the story.
In Sweet Heart #2, the allegory for diabetes comes even more to the forefront. In the opening sequence, we see Maddie’s first day of high school, known as Safety Day. It’s the time that all of the students are taught about the creatures in the town. As a moment of learning for the characters, it’s also wonderful exposition for the audience.
The Bruisers account for 90 percent of the attacks and are drawn to people with excessive amounts of sugar in them from consumption. The Stringers, on the other hand, who stalked Maddie’s father and now her, are drawn to them by genetics. This is an extremely on the nose representation of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and it surprisingly works well in this dark fantasy setting.
Sweet Heart #2 is a great issue because it builds out the world and it also builds out the characters. Through Maddie’s interaction with her teacher, her bully, and her Stringer, you get a full sense of who she is. Perpetually hurt by her father’s death and desperate for answers, Maddie is going through a lot, and her harsh demeanor is hiding a very real pain.
The most beautiful part of this book is a discussion between Maddie and her grandmother. Noticing her anger, her grandmother not only calls it out but has a conversation with her that treats her like a person with agency. Instead of talking down to her, her grandmother meets her where she is, and helps her deal with her anger. The conversation they have and the hopelessness that Maddie feels is what a lot of kids feel when they realize they’re ill and try to come terms with it. It’s a feeling I had, and many of my cousins had as our grandma suffered strokes and lost her leg, knowing that it is a future that could easily be ours.
Iaquinta’s art is magical and scary, with the creatures equal parts intriguing and menacing. With Pagnotta’s colors, the atmosphere is tense and in the final scenes of the issue, the rain is beautifully layered on to the scene.
Overall, Sweet Heart #2 is yet another amazing issue of a must-read title. There is emotion, beauty, and heavy commentary all wrapped into a horror comic, showcasing exactly what the horror genre can offer.
Sweet Heart #2 is now available on ComiXology.
Sweet Heart #2
Sweet Heart #2 is yet another amazing issue of a must-read title. There is emotion, beauty, and heavy commentary all wrapped into a horror comic, showcasing exactly what the horror genre can offer.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.