Read a Random Post

HEART EYES (review) —”Come we are one”

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Artists: Victor Ibáñez, Addison Duke

Vault 2023

LIFE UNDER A MICROSCOPE looks scary. The tale of teen-girl Lupe in the five-issues of HEART EYES, just out in 2023, appears to be a huge allegory of life under a microscope, magnifying those eensy-weensy alien microbes in our guts, which have co-existed in creatures with guts for hundreds of millions of years from our tiniest wormy ancestors, into big and scary monsters out to kill us.

No no, says Lupe, don’t be afraid. Embrace them. Cuddle. It turns out, if you are afraid, that is the end for you. Lupe, for some reason, is not afraid, and she adventures around through the “monstrous end of human society … without ever once being eaten.” Curious.

The story by Dennis Hopeless rambles at a leisurely pace toward an unknown destination. No quest to master, just glimpses of Lupe to understand where she comes from as she moves through the shambles of a city, and scattered remnants of humanity. Splendidly detailed artwork by Victor Ibáñez is always submerged under masks of color by Addison Duke that tint the view, and the mood: muted hues on a cell phone, tans with “before” memories, greens underwater, reds with passion. It suits up as a flesh-eating psychedelic romp.

Yet there is more. Always an allegory, thumping a beat in your face in a rhythm you have to recognize, like the way things are. A hidden narrator starts the story:

“Smart money would’ve been on self-annihilation. Class warfare. Climate devastation … nuclear winter … In the end, it wasn’t hatred, ignorance, or greed that snuffed humanity out. Just good old-fashioned monsters.”

Images of plagues and peoples flash before one’s eyes, devastating whole societies, reinforced by the scares of the recent pandemic, yet this is no mere virus, nor low-level radiation or toxins infiltrating our cells. These particular monsters are full-formed creatures who live inside us always, with a dynamic connectivity equal to the human brain: feeding with us, and on us.

The message here seems to be to love your microbiome. Cuddle it. Or else. Some scientists are warning we are reaching an “or else” moment with our little microbial monsters.

There is also a caution against carriers. Survivors are wary. Lupe’s encounter with a small organized group fortified in a compound, where they nearly killed her on sight, through the crosshairs of a rifle scope, immediately echoed for me descriptions of traditional societies by Jared Diamond in The World Until Yesterday (2012), where promptly killing strangers is the way. Individual accounts of contacts from various climes confirm one has to know someone or be related to get close alive. In Heart Eyes, this kind of prudence rules our future.

Many more moments jar with reality along the fantasy ride, finding a mother and two children in a remote trailer; a guy who took over an abandoned missile silo; maybe a love story. Might have happened yesterday. I had to reach the end of all five issues to know how to try to comprehend what this is all about. Cuddling is suspicious from the start, to cuddle or not to cuddle. The kids know the prompt kill-stranger routine, too. Yet, a contented couple do ride off into the sunset in the end, now I think about it, leaving a final message that like it or not, living with monsters is the way we live.