Writer: Fraser Campbell
Art: Katie Fleming
Publisher: Cabal Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A 4-issue light sci-fi crime caper miniseries centered around 3 friends with motivations at odds with one another.
Think Firefly meets Veronica Mars.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Toni Doinel grew up with Michael and Oscar. And while now, years later, they aren’t as close, it IS a little weird that they’re chasing her down as she tries to escape with a stolen human heart. But she needs it. For her brother. The thing is, that heart is the property of Ray-D, the local gang boss who will take it out on the entire community if he doesn't get the heart back. Michael's part of the gang, and Oscar's a cop in an organization of dirty police – each wants the heart for their own reasons.
Can Toni elude them and get the heart to her dying brother? And what will happen if one or both of her old friends catch up to her?
Crime comics can so quickly turn gritty and serious. Katie Fleming's effervescent art style keeps the tone light while still driving the point home that the present isn't really the brightest future these characters could have hoped for.
The whole issue plays out like a chase scene. Even with a decent amount of backstory for the characters and an inner narrative, the entire issue feels fast-paced and exciting.
Fraser Campbell establishes so much in the first page of the comic: Michael, Oscar and Toni are friends. Michael and Oscar have an antagonistic relationship. Oscar wants to be a cop. Toni seems starry-eyed, imagining her bright future. When we see the three years later, the reality of those lives they imagined has effected them in different ways. (For example, Toni's currently being shot at.) But aspects of those relationships are still in place, as if the three had never drifted apart.
Colored borders for Toni’s panels give a lot of attention to her scenes, making them harder-hitting and bringing a sense of style to the comic. It felt like a cool, differentiating factor from other comics – I hope it returns in future issues.
Rebecca Horner's colors throughout find a happy medium between the darker palette of a city riddled with crime and Fleming's buoyant line art. It makes for a comic that feels like a slight dystopian future while still being fun and approachable for all readers.
Heart of Steal is a high-octane comic and, as such, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou fills it with hand-drawn, textured sound effects. Sometimes, he’ll use gradients and size to show a volume increase, or cut them off to show how they’re blocked out by walls or far away. You get the feeling he has a ton of fun making them, like it’s one of his favorite parts of the process.
I also liked how, in one scene, he starts the speech bubbles in a quiet panel, then carries that dialogue into the scene with the speaking characters. It's a scene transition that feels inspired by film, and it's an effective, efficient use of space.
Love that the cover and credits page puts the artist first, a practice not usually done in comics. It makes you feel like Fleming contributed to the story and wasn't just there to make the pictures.
It's not one-to-one, but there might be an Akira allusion in this issue.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Credits page doesn't currently list what each person specifically does.
Because the story is so fast-paced, we don't spend a ton of time diving into the characters. Because of this, it can be a little hard to connect with them. But it's still only the first issue.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Heart of Steal is a story about the tension between friendship and ambition, set in a future world.
Yet, it feels grounded in humanity. The city might be moon-based, but it feels like it could be your city. The characters may be strangers, but they could just as easily be your friends. And, as each of us grows up, we reach that point where we have to choose if we want to pursue a future, or stay in the same town with the same friends.
Basically, Heart of Steal is a lot like your life. It's just much more fun and exciting.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Alex Automatic by Fraser Campbell & James Corcoran
Death or Glory by Rick Remender & Bengal
4 Kids Walk Into A Bank by Matthew Rosenberg & Tyler Boss
If you like the art:
100 Times by Katie Fleming and E. Kerr
Long Lost by Matthew Erman & Lisa Sterle
Snap Flash Hustle by Pat Shand & Emily Pearson
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Fraser Campbell – Writer
Multitalented: Has a background in comedy, writing for radio, and co-writing and co-directing plays
Outlander: Hails from Scotland
Katie Fleming – Illustrator
According to her Twitter, she's "queer, loves werewolves and makes comics, all in that order."
When we last saw Katie's work at Comic Book Yeti, it was in the Mixtape Anthology
Rebecca Horner – Colorist
Multitalented: Also does some illustration and cover design work
Outlander: Lives in the UK
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou – Letterer
Multitalented: Edits PanelxPanel, the digital magazine about comics, and also writes comics & films
Outlander: Lives in the south west of England
Has a comics podcast with Aditya Bidikar called Letters & Lines
Harry French – Editor
Outlander: Based in Scotland
Multitalented: Also writes comics
HOW DO I BUY IT?
The Kickstarter is coming July 26th! Follow Fraser Campbell on Twitter for updates.
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