Sometimes the only way to defeat a monster is with another monster…  Your Major Spoilers review of Sweet Heart #5 from Action Lab – Danger Zone awaits!


Writer: Dillon Gilbertson
Artist: Francesco Iaquinta
Colorist: Marco Pagnotta
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher: Jason Martin
Publisher: Action Lab – Danger Zone
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: April 29, 2020

Previously in Sweet HeartThis is the end.  Maddie makes a final attempt to save herself, her family, and a town with no hope of being saved.  Will she succeed?

Or will she finally understand why the town has given up?


We open with “The Night of Final Contact,” as Maddie’s grandmother finally prepares to give in to her guilt over her son’s death and her family’s affliction with strange monsters. when she suddenly hears an explosion outside.  Maddie and her mother have been injured by the blast (I’m not clear exactly what happened, and the issue doesn’t clearly explain it), leaving her without any of the serum that keeps her alive and at the mercy of her Stringer, the monster that follows her around, ever ready to eat her.  She smashes her last bottle and stabs the creature in the face, allowing them to make a break for Grandman’s house and, they hope, a way to show the town how to fight again.  Grandma, for her part, fights off her own alien and refuses to give up, making for a tearful family reunion and a desperate plan: Pit Maddie’s Stringer against Grandma’s Bruiser, getting rid of the problem once and for all!


Not everyone makes it out of this issue alive, and while I’m quite impressed how touching the loss is, the way it’s presented and the way the issue ends aren’t to my liking.  I really appreciate the use of “hovering monsters” as a metaphor for chronic disease, but the metaphorical waters get a little bit muddier when the two monsters battle one another.  The real triumph of this book, though, is once again in Iaquinta’s art, especially things like Maddie’s facial expression as she puts her plan in motion and the emotional reunion between Maddie and her mom.  (The fact that mom and Grandma aren’t given any other names is a little bothersome to me, though.)  I truly love all the emotional moments of this story, and as much as I’m bothered by where the story ends, the final page’s wide-screen “crane shot” perspective makes for a great visual ending to this book.


All in all, Sweet Heart #5 is more successful than not, successfully conveying it’s themes of seeming hopelessness, family ties and the importance of being brave even with some storytelling moments that don’t quite hit the metaphorical bullseye, earning a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall.  Even if the central metaphor doesn’t quite hold together, the emotion of this story and the expressive art make for a good read, and I quite look forward to checking out a collection of all five issues.

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The end of the book is as inspiring as it is abrupt, but I can't help but like this book and these characters.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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