by Angela Cainen

Fall into some more robot style angst.

Written & Lettered by: Paul Allor
Art, Lines, Colours & Cover by: Paul Tucker

If you have read Hollow Heart you will be aware that it’s not the most cheerful of books. It gets even less cheery in this issue. It’s a good book but I think it’s worth being prepared for some angst.

At the end of the first issue Mateo had agreed to help El break the tether that was preventing his escape. Now we see more of the background to the facility where El is being held, why time is running out for El, why Mateo is making the choices he is and the hint of consequences for not just them but perhaps other people too.

Once more we get an analogy in the first part of the book. It was a goldfish last time; this time it’s about a woman who sang in a choir. I am still not sure how the analogy precisely relates to the characters and plot but I like a book that makes me think and this one certainly does by including the story of the woman who sang until she didn’t.

We get more of Mateo’s determination to help El. Mateo clearly has a good heart because he wants to help and not just El. He recognises Donnie the guard is hurting as well but Donnie is too angry to listen. It’s interesting how it seems as if Donnie and El have something in common that way.

There’s also more backstory to the facility. We still don’t know what their ultimate goal is but we are learning that they see El as disposable and have their doubts about his usefulness. We’re still not sure what the end goal with using human parts in mech bodies is, especially since self awareness doesn’t seem to be part of the end game. But it’s interesting to get a bit of the science involved.

Other good character work is in the interactions between El and Mateo who have more interaction in this issue. El trusts Mateo just because Mateo has shown him kindness and respect. There’s a definite joy in El when Mateo comes back and begins to help him. There’s a trust there on both sides which is pretty well established. Yet it’s not going to be plain sailing as evidenced by the explosive ending where El goes into a rage because of what has been done to him.

That’s really where the angst comes in.

Whilst Paul Allor’s writing is very strong (and his lettering, especially of El’s dialogue, is also excellent)  it’s really helped by Paul Tucker’s art. There’s some really interesting panel work going on. There are panels juxtaposed on top of background images that really give a deeper emotional feeling and insight into what is going on. The fact that so few of the pages have traditional panel layouts but instead tell the story with panels that don’t fill the page, or panels inside and on top of other panels really makes it a different reading experience. At points it also helps give the reader some disorientation in the world perhaps not unlike the disorientation El experiences.

Overall Hollow Heart #2 expands the world out and deepens the emotion involved. There’ still a lot of questions that need to be answered but by this point I feel more invested in El and Mateo as characters and the ending does make me concerned for what might happen next. Though I still feel a bit of the disorientation. I feel there’s more being expressed here than I can fully grasp, which isn’t a bad thing as I do like comics that make me think, but there are things I hope we see more of going forward.

I would say the story is getting darker, be warned.

I rate it 3.9 out of 5 angry robot types with a side of 3 out 5 boxes of tissues in the future.

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