Updated: Jan 26, 2021
Writer: Ryan Burke
Artist/Letterer: Joel Saavedra
Colorist: Damian Peñalba
Publisher: Self Published
***CONTENT WARNING: The art example below is TOO HOT for audiences under 18***
WHAT IS IT?
What is it? Not as easy a question as you might think. The Kickstarter for coronary says it's an action romance comic. But through 3 issues it's more of a heady mix of futurism and action. It's a cross between Hickman's Transhuman and The Bourne Identity!
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Coronary gives us a dystopian take on the future plus a commentary on our obsession with youth and beauty, in the service of a character study about a rich businessman who tried to save the world and a young woman who's lost in it.
The primary device driving the narrative in Coronary is the idea that plastic surgery has become free and people’s obsession with personal beauty and self-gratification has ratcheted up to seriously unhealthy levels.
The main character is a man named Justin Sharpe who helped to start this craze by developing a plan to make surgery free and pay for it through the sale of pharmaceuticals. But now, the law is after him because people are dying from his drugs, the criminal element is after him for reasons that are relatively hazy at this point, and a girl named Luna is trying to save him.
The concept is the real hook here. Burke takes our modern obsessions and fears surrounding appearance and aging and amplifies them to absurd levels, all while weaving a fast-moving story with interesting characters.
I loved the way Burke organizes the storylines and the overall narrative. Coronary is told through a series of quick cut scenes that move back and forth in location and time with few signposts as to exactly what's going on or why. It's disorienting. It's confusing. And it's interesting as hell.
If you're looking for something easy to read where you can just turn your brain off, this probably isn't your book. Coronary is a comic that encourages you to re-read it, where each time you go back to it you notice something new and think you might understand something that you missed before. If you are into that, this is a rewarding read and is a book you will want to try.
I love the art by Joel Saavedra. His style is at times very reminiscent of Edwardo Risso, who is one of my all-time favorites. Saavedra’s use of shadow and the way he poses his figures and arranges his panels clearly show the influence of Risso, and as both men are Argentinian, this is likely not an accident.
Even so, Saavedra has his own style. He is more restrained in his page organization, less abstract in his background drawings, and as the series goes along his art becomes increasingly cleaner and more distinct.
The main character remains a cypher for much of the first three issues, although we do eventually see what motivated him to start BeautX, a company specializing in “cosmetic corrections.” That reveal helps to humanize him and sets up several new questions at the same time.
Colorist Damian Penalba does a great job adding depth and mood to Saavedra’s work, and the comic has pages where the colors are absolutely luminous.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The main problem with the book stems from its complexity. There are times when I really didn't know what was going on. At some point when you are reading Coronary, a meeting happens. A briefcase is chucked. And things happen. I can't actually say I know what the hell happened there.
I am also a bit confused by Luna. Or the Lunas. There are three times we encounter women named Luna, and each time, her appearance is significantly different. I believe this is partly a matter of flashbacks and partly a matter of BeautX pharmaceutical changes. But it would be nice if that was made a bit clearer. Or maybe there is a reason it isn’t clear, and I guess I’m fine with that too.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Coronary is a trippy, well-executed sci-fi action adventure story of the kind we just don’t see enough of. It feels a bit like a Black Mirror episode and looks a bit like 100 Bullets. What more can you ask for!?
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Issue #1 is on Comixology, or all three issues are available from the Coronary Comic website.
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Coronary Comic characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Coronary Comic or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED