A review of the final issue of Blair Butler's Image miniseries!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Heart #4 - Blair Butler and Kevin Mellon
It all comes down to this. The shocking outcome of a pivotal fight forces M.M.A. brawler Oren "Rooster" Redmond to reconsider his future inside - and outside - the cage. Don't miss the conclusion to this violent tale from artist KEVIN MELLON (LOVESTRUCK) and writer BLAIR BUTLER (G4's "Attack of the Show").
I spoil things, so if you don’t like that, don’t read this.
I’ll come right out and say it, Blair Butler had me sceptical when she said she was writing an MMA comic, but I went out and bought the damn thing anyway. The first issue wasn’t genius, but I liked what I read, and continued buying it. For those of you who didn’t catch the first three issues, it follows Drew “Rooster” Redmond through his rise in the world of MMA...and his eventual fall. Honestly, I don’t watch a lot of MMA, but I can admire two men that face off man-to-man with only their bodies and training keeping them from being torn apart. There is something noble about MMA and the ability to protect one’s self- and if it came down to it, the ability to protect your loved ones. I believe this is what Butler is tapping into with Heart, the noble heart of the warrior. Rooster’s rise and fall doesn’t include a lot character depth; he is the man that has quit his day job to follow his dreams. But if you have ever failed at something that you wanted you can relate to Rooster, and to the fact that he has to move on when he hits a wall with his fighting. Butler has improved a lot within the span of four issues, her story flows with a more practiced hand than it did in the first issue, and although the moral of the story is a little heavy-handed, she makes you feel Rooster’s pain of loss and cheer his ability to recover.
Mellon’s stark, simple cover made this book leap from the rack in a week where it needed to, as there were a lot of wonderful books this week. Kevin Mellon has been tasked with the enormous task of bringing characters to life in Heart, into bringing a sport with intense quickness into an artform like comics that is filled with static images and is devoid of movement. Mellon has brought something different to this art, his inking is loose and sketchy and angular. The layout of the book is intelligently simple, skewing panels only in a key sequence that shows Rooster’s breaking as an athlete through staggered panels. I also enjoyed the inkwash that Mellon employed while finishing the pages, the lighter tones adding some smoothness to the angles and softening the book in the latter half, as the fighting takes a smaller role in Rooster's life. You might want to watch Mellon closely as his experimenation will make him an interesting artist, an innovative force that can only deepen given time.
While Heart is in no way a perfect book, it is a great start to Butler’s career in writing comics: the story was concise, the character had a thorough journey from beginning to end, and Butler elicited an emotional reaction from me, something that many writers fail at doing. And with Mellon deftly and passionately showcasing new techniques, Heart would be a perfect entry point into comics for the man in your life that enjoys MMA, appreciates the fights, and can root for the underdog.
Review by: Martin John