Savage Hearts #1 is published by Dark Horse Comics. It comes from the creative team of writer Aubrey Sitterson, illustrator Jed Daugherty, colorist Lovern Kindzierski, and letterer Taylor Esposito. The story opens in a lush jungle. A lone horned, purple-furred beast-man named Graow rests in the canopy until he hears a disturbance. A small group of adventurers, including the towering barbarian woman Bronwyn. Graow becomes enamored with Bronwyn and watches the group as they are accosted by a dinosaur-like Stomper.
The Stomper steals Bronwyn’s great-ax, which prompts a flashback to when she found it. As she struggles to retrieve it, her companions look on helplessly. Graow swings down to assist the group, hoping to use this opportunity to get closer to Bronwyn. The other party members introduce themselves as the husband and wife duo of Pheaux and Fo. Graow quickly establishes himself as a guide to assist the party. But their quest is far from easy, and soon Graow may find himself in over his head in his quest to woo the mighty Bronwyn.
Savage Hearts #1 feels like a comic from another time, and I mean that in the best way possible. The story and writing immediately reminded me of old comic-strip fantasy series like Snarfquest and Wormy. This is largely thanks to the tongue-in-cheek, self-aware style that Sitterson uses. The characters, except for Bronwyn, who seems to have a great deal more depth than the rest, all feel like they’re constantly winking toward the reader. Things like Fo and Pheaux’s constant indecisiveness and decision to put everything to a vote, often to Bronwyn’s frustration. This helps to keep the story light at all times, which is a boon for the comic, though it does take a bit of the edge off of the action sequences. The story itself fairly predictable, but I’m hopeful that future issues will retain the charm that this one has.
The art from Daughterty and Kindzierski is bright and kinetic. The bright, energetic colors and dynamic poses of the characters would have been right at home on 90s comic spinner-racks. But that doesn’t mean they feel dated. The art itself feels like a brilliant blend of old styles and new. Daugherty’s detailed work makes every page feel lush, and every character feels alive. The colors from Kindzierski enhance this while also never feeling overwhelming or busy. The way that Graow’s purple fur compliments the green of the jungle while contrasting the tan Bronwyn keeps their interactions visually interesting.
The letters from Esposito further bridge the gap between ages past and modern comics. The use of bold, artistic letters in bubbles to add weight to exclamations feels right out of the 90s. But it’s never in a way that feels anything less than loving homage. Past that, the letters are well placed and always easy to read and follow.
Overall, I enjoyed the nostalgia from reading Savage Hearts #1. The writing and art hearken back to another time in comics and fantasy while still bringing talent and flair that feels distinctly modern. The story is solid, though I’m hoping for a few twists and turns along the way. Regardless, fans of fantasy, and especially anyone who used to read the comic strips in Dragon magazine, should check this one out.
Savage Hearts #1 will be available July 14th wherever comics are sold.
Savage Hearts #1
Overall, I enjoyed the nostalgia from reading Savage Hearts #1. The writing and art hearken back to another time in comics and fantasy while still bringing a talent and flair that feels distinctly modern