(Monkeybrain Comics, 2013)
Review by Brad Gischia
STORY BY: Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett
SCRIPT BY: Anina Bennett
ARTWORK BY: Paul Guinan
LETTERING BY: Willie Schubert
My thanks to monkeybrain comics and bagandbored.net, they’ve done my job for me this week. Heartbreakers was originally published in Dark Horse Presents #35 on December 1, 1989, so that puts it smack in the middle of my usual era for longbox reading. I was twelve at the time. My passions were Spider Man and the X-men. Had I seen Heartbreakers at that age, I don’t know that I would have picked it over the mutant covers that I loved, and that’s where the thank you’s come in. I missed out.
In the Heartbreakers we have a group of “clonecode” bodyguards, and the reader is dropped into the middle of a battle in which they are protecting their maker, geneticist Therese Sorenson, who invented the “rapiclone” process by which the clone are made. We quickly see that Therese is as much mercenary as scientist, and directs her guards like the soldiers she made them to be. All of the clones are women. Therese works for Biovoc the company that is in charge of trying to gun her down. They escape into the city.
This story is science fiction, so it comes with the baggage that you get from a first issue of sci-fi. There are a lot of “scientific” terms you have to absorb and remember to understand the story, and the fact that the characters are clones makes it hard to sometimes realize who is speaking. The book is wordy, though I think that an excellent combination of lettering and art, along with the strength of the overall script, make it easy to navigate and a joy to read. It’s a black and white book, so that adds to the stark nature of the written story. Guinan has a style that works well for massive shots, elegantly detailed, of the air ships leaving the battle-scarred compound, as well as close-ups that bring you right into the action.
The beauty of this book is its timelessness. In ’89 it was radical to have an all female cast of characters. Have comics changed that much? Haven’t we just seen the advent of an all-female cast in the X-(wo)men? Would this have been possible without the Heartbreakers in ’89? We seem, as a society, to still be on similar ground socially. How have we advanced in the area of cloning? What is the national stance? Is there one? Who are lionized as some of the greatest evildoers in our society? Big corporations? Who has sympathy for Lehman Brothers or GM? It’s a little scary to see how little has actually changed since I was twelve, and at the same time comforting. We grow as a society and continue the same battles, but we are still fighting, striving to make it all better. Will it be any different in twenty years? Hopefully we’ll be able to look back on a book from 1989 and know that although the fights remain the same, our ability to fight those things that we think are wrong is not. (And, on a personal note, pray that print comics still exist.)
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