REVIEW: ‘Hollow Heart,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hollow Heart #1

Content Warning: Hollow Heart #1 deals with themes of suicide.

Hollow Heart #1 is published by Vault Comics, written by Paul Allor, art by Paul Tucker, and letters by Paul Allor. Meet El. All that remains of El are some of his vital organs, which have been locked inside an armored bio-suit; how he came to be in this state or why are unknown. But one thing is for sure, he isn’t happy, and he is extremely alone.

Loneliness, depression, and isolation. Sadly, these are everyday feelings for many. And despite their prevalence, they can be extremely difficult to talk about. After all, the how’s, whys, and when these feelings visit people can be vastly different from person to person. It is for this reason that anchoring stories on these sorts of topics can be so tricky. What perfectly captures the experience for one person may fail utterly for another. And while I’ve experienced media that nails these themes, it falls short more often than not. Plus, another difficulty makes these concepts a challenging central theme for a comic in particular. They are concepts that take time to grow.

When Hollow Heart #1 opens, we are dropped into the middle of an escape attempt on the part of El. We see him run into security and promptly be disabled through the use of some sort of electrical subjugation device. A lot is going on here that is not clarified for the reader. What is this place? How did El find himself here since he does not wish to be here? Is this some form of prison? None of this is clarified, and those details could have a tremendous impact on how the reader ultimately views El.

Once El is back in his room, he meets Mateo. Mateo is a mechanic who has been assigned to repair El’s damage from his escape attempt. As the mechanic gets to work, he tries to strike up a conversation with El. Though at first, El is reluctant to talk. Through some casual kindness on the part of Mateo, El eventually is willing to talk with him. While Mateo shows El some much-needed respect, he isn’t without his faults here. Well, possibly. While some of Mateo’s actions are manipulative, it can be argued that they are nonetheless done with good intentions. Something for the reader to judge.

During their discussion about El’s escape attempt, El tells Mateo about his tether. A system that, if he managed to get outside the structure that they are in, his life support would cut out, and he would die. This revelation changes the motivations of El’s earlier escape completely.

After his work with El is done, Mateo attempts to clear his head a little by searching out some human companionship. During his search, he comes to a conclusion. He is going to help El.

The writing in Hollow Heart #1 is such that it would be easy to overlook. While most of the conversations that take place are brief, writer Allor puts a sizable nuance level into each, allowing the characters to speak louder than their words.

This nuanced expression is further projected in Tucker’s art. Of which the greatest achievement therein has to be the way the artist captures El.

All the reader sees of El is his face. Well, what’s left of it anyway. As little more than a floating skull with eyes, Tucker manages to give El a profound and heartfelt presence in the panels. El’s pain is always palpable. While El is the central focus, he is far from the only one hurting here. And every emotion within these panels is captured well.

When all is said and done, Hollow Heart #1 delivers an interesting and emotional beginning. While there are many questions that need answering about this story’s protagonists and situations, it certainly feels like it has something to say. Whether or not that message will ultimately resonate with readers is something only time will tell.

Hollow Heart #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Hollow Heart #1
4

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Hollow Heart #1 delivers an interesting and emotional beginning. While there are many questions that need answering about this story’s protagonists and situations, it certainly feels like it has something to say. Whether or not that message will ultimately resonate with readers is something only time will tell.