Callie and Mercer, a literal bonnie and Clyde where Clyde just so happens to live inside your recent heart transplant.
Yeah, it's not your everyday premise, but that's what makes it intriguing. Despite the unique premise, writer Christopher Sebela's Heartthrob is at its heart a character portrait of a woman grasping for some semblance of a real life. A cocktail of crime, heartbreak, and co-dependence makes it surprisingly easy to root for her, and most can identify with giving in to your baser extincts, especially when life is tough. The fact that the story builds off of Callie's internal struggle makes the other more eccentric aspects of the narrative much easier to take in stride.
Callie has dealt with a myriad of setbacks and illness in her life, up until the point she gets a heart transplant. Seen by some as a brand new lease on life, it can be easy to fall into the same old rut, and the book catalogs Callie's struggles with this sad reality. She works in a boring insurance job where she's asked to screw people out of their incomes on a daily basis, a reminder that the world isn't innately altruistic.
That paves the way for Mercer. That Clyde reference was in regards to Mercer, who's not quite ready to head into the big white light, and who has more than his fair share of lessons to teach. Of course, those lessons involve robbing banks, crooked investors, and drug dealers, but compared to the doldrums of loneliness, depression, and self-loathing, you can't really blame her for looking at it as a step up.
The best thing about Heartthrob though is that in a twisted way it is a step up, and it's through this flawed process that Callie starts to put the pieces back together again, though not in the way you might expect.
The narrative is only enhanced by the lively pencils of Robert Wilson IV. The story takes place in the 1970's, and Wilson's art features all the warm oranges and bright blues you'd expect from the period. There's also a wonderful groundedness to his characters, allowing for some of the more emotional moments to connect even harder. It's an example of a writer and an artist working perfectly in rhythm.
Heartthrob Vol. 1 is a welcome change from the superhero-centric world of comics and portrays a relatable character study with a rather non-relatable premise. Heartthrob Vol. 1 is a story well worth your time and things should get even crazier in Vol. 2.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Written By: Christopher Sebela
Art By: Robert Wilson IV
Designed By: Dylan Todd
Lettered By: Crank!