Exploring Power In Heart Attack #1

Ever since the invention of superheroes, questions about how powered individuals would fit in our society have been posed in comics. Would powerful people use their abilities to take control? How do you govern a world split between ordinary humans and those with extraordinary abilities? Heart Attack #1 by writer Shawn Kittelsen, artist Eric Zawadzki, colorist Michael Garland, and letterer Pat Brosseau brings us a world where superpowered people are persecuted and shunned by society.

From The Top Of Heart Attack #1

Though this is just the beginning, already the world presented in Heart Attack #1 brings light to a harsh possibility for powered individuals. Superheroes, called Variants, are subject to specific laws and policing, seemingly with the intention of protecting the ordinary citizens. It immediately becomes clear that the brutality utilized by Variant Crimes Unit (VCU) comes from a place of prejudice and fear, not protection. When an incident occurs, Variant Nona is arrested. Her abduction causes a cry of outrage among the other Variants, and within the Freebodies movement.

Jill discovers a boost to her abilities after an encounter.
Heart Attack #1, Page 27, Image Comics (2019)

After the tragic event, Charlie, Nona’s friend and witness to her abduction meets up with the head of the Freebodies news, and something unusual occurs. All the Freebodies — people dedicated to the rights of Variants — know that Variants aren’t very powerful and aren’t a real threat to society. Charlie himself admits he couldn’t even light a cigarette with his heat ability. Until he shakes hands with TV personality Jill Kearney, that is. Both of them experience a dramatic increase in their abilities, and in their danger of remaining caught by the VCU. Suddenly, their ability to change the world for the betterment of Variants doesn’t seem so out of reach.

Build Me Up

Overall, I am super interested in where this story goes. The intense situation people with abilities face in this world has me on the edge of my seat. I need to know why Charlie and Jill seem to increase each other’s powers. It reminds me of Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger. Instead of blowing up when they touch, though, they instead become insanely strong. As the baseline for the rest of the series, Heart Attack #1 does well.

An advertisement for Heart Attack #1 featuring the body artwork from the comic.
Heart Attack, Image Comics (2019)

We’re already immersed in the world of the story. Though we don’t know much about Charlie and Jill just yet, we have enough to go off of to know that we like them and that there’s definitely something bizarre going on. Since both characters are so close to the freedom movement and the controversies happening in their world, one as a witness and one as a frontwoman to the cause, there’s definitely plenty to explore in future Heart Attack issues.

When We Touch

While the majority of the art didn’t speak to me in any particular way, good or bad, I was definitely intrigued by the portrayal of Jill and Charlie’s moments of connection. When they touch and power up, we see a close up on their bodies, and on the changes and sensations occurring each time they come together. I don’t know what it all means, but the detail of the artwork makes it clear that whatever’s between them is happening not just with their powers, but with their bodies as well.

Heart Attack #1 In The Here And Now

With intrigue and political upheaval, Heart Attack #1 certainly provides the baseline for what could be a really great comic series. Social movements are happening all over the United States, and this comic is positioning itself right in the heart of another one. Although fictional, I think the ideas we are beginning to see can remain applied to the world right now. Who knows how far they’ll go in future issues?

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