I’m a huge Mixed Martial Arts fan, and when I heard an MMA comic book was coming from Image, I was filled with questions. What would it look like? Would it just be like Rocky, but with MMA instead of boxing? And if so, would that be a good or bad thing? And most of all, would non-MMA fans care about it?
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Blair Butler
Artist: Kevin Mellon
The writer, Blair Butler (from G4’s Fresh Ink and Attack of the Show!), has proved that she’s a big enough comics and MMA expert to handle an MMA comic, and it shows with this first issue. We follow young Oren Redmond on his rise and transformation from mediocre college dropout to amateur fighter. For me as a fan, the make or break for this series would be how the actual fights would translate onto comic book panels, and thankfully, it’s very well done. From the first page, fans will recognize the setting and what’s about to happen immediately, and it’s clear enough for someone who’s never seen an MMA fight to understand what’s going on.
But there’s plenty more to Heart than just fighting. Butler tells a very human story that anyone can find relatable about changing yourself, and chasing purpose, and we do see a lot of heart from the main character, but I’m not yet sold on why I should care about this guy. We spend most of the issue inside Oren Redmond’s head as he simply recaps the early months of his career, and I would have liked to have seen more of his personality.
Kevin Mellon does a great job illustrating the action, capturing armbars, triangle chokes, and all the other aspects of a fight perfectly, all while showing the appropriate emotion on each character’s face. And I like the choice to keep the art black and white.
The MMA nerd in me loved the atmosphere of the indie MMA promotion, the tale-of-the-tape which included the fighter’s entrance music, and I chuckled at the Don Fry-like trainer and the reference to his Magnum P.I. mustache. Non-fans won’t learn much about the sport by reading this issue, but they’ll absolutely be able to follow along and enjoy what’s presented. This was a great introductory issue, but issue #2 will really decide if I stay for the decision or tap out early.