Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Can’t Be Broken – An Al Queda Story and Don’t Stop at the Burka, Baby
Written by: Neil Hendricks
Art by: Ulises Carpintero
Publisher: Blue King Studios
For me comic reading is a way to depart the real world. Dredging up the problems of the modern day is not my favorite way to spend my leisure reading. Most especially, I hate when superhero comics attempt to relate to real events using fantastical characters. It’s a horrible mix. A mix I absolutely detest. On the other hand, a comic that moves away from superheroes and attempts to be topical can draw my interest.
The Black Heart Irregulars does an admirable job speaking about the current situation in Iraq. Granted, this is a subject matter that most Americans are bombarded with through news broadcasts, newspaper headlines, and magazine articles on a daily basis. So, it’s a subject that is a bit of a turnoff in a comic. Before reading BHI #1 I was already a little prejudiced against the book. This really isn’t the type of thing that I want in my comics. Yet, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. In fact, there were a few exceptional bits that made me think long and hard about Iraq’s future.
The book isn’t set in the present day, but, instead, it’s the near future, when Iraq has begun to feel the influence of American culture. The idea of America setting forth its mass-conglomeration of corporate logos on the Iraqi people is an interesting one. The thought that the insane mass-consumption, mass-merchandised, and mass-produced American machine can roll in there and start to bring change down on the Iraqi people is very interesting.
The other area the book steps towards is reverse-terrorism. The Black Heart Irregulars used to be one of the finest personal security firms working in Iraq. Essentially, they could guarantee your safe transport through the embattled nation. The team is sold out and ends up transporting a suicide bomber, thus destroying their reputation. After having their lives ruined, these gents decide to band together and become terrorists. A terrorist group totally unlike we’ve seen before. I’m not going to give it all away, though. Let me just say that Hendricks’s take on “terrorism” is utterly different than anything that’s come before. It’s a fascinating avenue that I am interested to see further explored.
The first issue has a few confusing moments, but as a whole is a very solid beginning. Luckily, I was privy to the first two issues, as the story picks up immensely with the second installment. I’m hoping readers that try the first issue don’t decide it’s a little obtuse and pass on issue number two. That would be a huge mistake. The characters’ actions start to make sense, the big story falls into place, and we get a good backstory for all involved.
As far as Ulises Carpintero’s art is concerned, you can color me impressed. The setting is realistically rendered. The numerous real life locales are stunningly detailed. Not to mention the machinery and weapons are spot-on. The action sequences work really well and the characters are pretty easy to tell from one another. I haven’t seen Carpintero’s work previously, but I’ll be looking out for his stuff from here on out.
All told, The Black Heart Irregulars is well written, with fine artwork. I especially enjoyed the “director’s commentary” at the end of each issue. It’s always nice to have some value-added material in a comic book. A direct link into the creator’s creative process is probably the best add-on that I could ask for.
This is an advance review of Black Heart Irregulars #1-2. Issue #1 will be on sale in August, with issue #2 shipping in September.