In the Variant Crimes Unit, all Variant born individuals are considered dangerous because of their abilities. Writer Shawn Kittlesen and artist Eric Zawadzki invite you to experience a romance story that takes a jab at political themes, social injustice, and the power of determination.
Heart Attack #1 is set in a futuristic world where a man named Dr. Derek Plitt using gene modification therapy ends an outbreak that saves mankind. The side effects of his efforts give birth to Gen-V, children born with extra-human DNA. These kids develop abilities and are later referred to as “Variants.” A lot like the current world we inhabit, people start to become fearful of Variants because they’re different than everyone else. This fear leads to the establishment of a police unit called the Variant Crimes Unit, or VCU. At the start of the book two friends who are Variants themselves, Nona and Charlie, are milling around town trying to carry out a mission.
They’re vandalizing VCU poster signage hanging around the streets when suddenly they’re caught by two VCU policemen. Charlie manages to escape but Nona is tasered and arrested. Charlie captures the arrest footage on his mobile device and sends it to the other members of Freebody, a resistance movement they’re a part of. This sets the rest of the course of events in the story in motion.
The premise of Heart Attack #1 is decent, with small hints of a future romance between the two main protagonists. Kittlesen’s message of prejudice and injustice resonants within the first few pages. The only major flaw thus far is the lack of information regarding time period, location, and backstory on Nona and Charlie. Some of the information is given at the end of the book but it would have been more useful at the beginning. The reader isn’t given enough information about the characters to make any relatable connection or show empathy. Despite these setbacks, the world-building in Heart Attack #1 does feel pretty authentic thanks in part to the fantastic illustrations by Eric Zawadzki.
Zawadzki’s illustrations help sell this imperfect world where people are targeted for being different. In terms of character designs, the VCU look pays homage to Judge Dredd, which was a nice touch. There are a lot of panels with news coverage and Zawadzki does an incredible job with organizing everything so it flows really well. The night club panels are some of the best in this issue.
Heart Attack #1 has a lot of potential to be a great story. Hopefully, the next issue will shed more light on the main characters and give more detail on them. The art is good, the pacing is just right, and it does a good job of keeping the reader’s attention. Heart Attack #1 is definitely worth giving a try.
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