REVIEW: HOME – Issue 1 by @JulioAnta (Image Comics)
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
The new five-issue series Home from Image Comics by writer Julio Anta and artist Anna Wieszcyzk looks at immigration and the US/Mexico border through the lens of the superhero. It’s a blistering first issue that sets the scene for a powerful story to come.
While there’s no shortage of stuff out there that deals with ‘the border’ – everything from Sicario and Don Winslow’s Cartel trilogy all the way through to 2666 by Roberto Bolano – most of it focuses on bigger picture targets like the futile War on Drugs. By framing Home within the structure of an origin story, Anta is looking to make the political personal. There are shades of both Hulk and Magneto here, so the idea is one with a certain amount of pedigree in comics.
Call it either wish fulfilment or a coping mechanism, but who wouldn’t want superpowers when it seems like the world is against you?
So we plunge into the story with a ripped from the headlines opening that juxtaposes the US political response to the immigration crisis with the reality on the ground. It’s a simple but effective move.
Julio Anta is a relatively fresh voice in the comics world, but Home appears to be the culmination of several years of work on the subject. There are some earlier stories that tackle the horrors of the southern border that can be found online on Julio’s website. Anta has explored immigration with a scalpel, poking it from different angles and examining what’s inside. Sincerely, Agent Meija is my favorite – a brutal confession that unfolds over ten pages of frenetic and somber artwork by Randy Haldeman.
Home carves out a different approach. Anna Wieszcyzk’s art (and the subdued color work of Bryan Valenza) give this first issue a fantastic dream-like quality that often feels at odds with the gritty story that’s unfolding.
The story itself is like most first issues an exercise in set-up and scene setting, establishing the characters and mapping out the terrain. We meet a young Guatemalan boy Juan and his mother as they reach the US border before they are cruelly separated. The reveal of Juan’s superpowers is slowly teased through the book before exploding (quite literally) on the final pages. There’s more than enough here to entice readers about what will happen next. Does Juan find his mother? Will he be magnanimous with his new powers, or will he go full Magneto?
There’s already been some buzz about this book, but given the timely content matter not all of it is positive. Some comic readers apparently think that it’s “too political” – as if the X-Men and Art Spiegelman never existed. Viewpoints like that, while predictable and depressing all the same, is just a reminder that stories like this need to be told more than ever. And it says more about them than it does about Home.
Home #1 is available on April 14. We encourage you to visit your local comic book shop to pick it up!