Home #2 is a story about family, survival, racism, and social conformity to the aftermath of Trump’s America. But what makes Home #2 compelling is its refreshing representation of Latinx characters in American comics, particularly one who possesses hidden superhero abilities that may give them another chance at a new life. Add up some slow, contemplative moments outside of violence and tragedy, and Home #2 continues to share a story worth telling and understanding.
After the grueling journey of escaping Guatemala, Juan and his mother Mercedes finally arrive at the US-Mexico border. But their hopes of finding security and a new chapter are not what they seem, as Juan and Mercedes are painfully torn away from each other under a new “no tolerance” policy. Home #2 immediately follows Juan’s escape from the immigrant detention center after he accidentally causes an explosion from his glowing hands.
Anna Wieszczyk captures Juan’s overwhelming fear and desperation perfectly throughout Home #2, as he sprints through endless stretches of forest and unknown territory. His trauma is paralleled against Mercedes anxiously waiting to be transferred to the women’s detention center, while stuck in agonizing worry over the location of her son.
And while there’s nothing new about a superpowered kid, the fantastical parts of Home #2 are just a small part of its appeal. What makes Home #2 unique is that it isn’t afraid to make you wince at uncomfortable situations. Julio Anta cuts deep into the harsh reality of migration and the contrast between the promise of the American Dream.
All throughout Home #2, Anta demonstrates the ways America has denied humanity, especially against Latinx people and immigrants. From an uncomfortable and inhumane exchange between Mercedes and a detention center officer to Juan tearfully watching parents shower their child with affection, Home #2 forces you to confront the painful realities that exist for so many immigrants across America.
Anta also masterfully evokes empathy from the reader, as we watch Juan find his way to a shopping mall and borrow a phone from a Mexican restaurant, seeking to get in touch with his aunt. From the almost embarrassing request to exposing his white lie by asking for the mall’s address, everything about Juan’s situation reminds us of our own moments of loss, fear, and confusion.
As Juan waits for the arrival of his aunt, Anta and Wieszczyk reveal an earlier flashback between Mercedes and her mother-in-law, encouraging her and Juan to flee Guatemala. Their exchange is a bittersweet reminder that sometimes life doesn’t consider our plans, that we can only do our best with what we’re given. Mercedes’s brave decision is ultimately for the security of their family and it’s this strength that Juan and Mercedes need now more than ever to face their predicament.
Once Juan finally reunites with his aunt, he reveals to her what happened at the immigrant detention center. And it’s here that Juan faces a surprise that may be larger than the “no tolerance” policy he and his mother just brutally experienced. Juan’s special ability is a secret passed down from his father, who also wielded the ability to summon fire from his body. Both he and his father carry the burden of uncontrollable and overwhelming power. But with the help of his aunt, he may just be able to use his powers for good.
Wieszczyk and colorist Bryan Valenza create both a lush and cold world. Pages are both bright and miserable with Valenza’s colors, shifting between a warm palette of oranges, yellows, reds and greens, to dull environments, such as Mercedes waiting in the detention center or the flashback between Mercedes and her mother-in-law.
Home #2 is a refreshing representation of Latinx heroes in American comics and a powerful tale about the horrific risks of migration. Despite its serious subject matter and lack of subtlety when it comes to its racist antagonists and policies, Home #2 is still an uplifting story about family, love, and belonging.
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