Indie Comic Spotlight Review: Heartbreak Quadrant Phase 1- Gorgeous, Exciting, Compelling

Heartbreak Quadrant Phase 1
9 / 10 Reviewer
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BC Rating
Writer, Artist, Letters: Barrett Stanley, Release Date: Out Now, Price: $12.00

In deep space near the Heartbreak Quadrant, there are two women, Ida and Kumi. They’re smugglers who do odd jobs for pay. Ida is contacted by an associate named Ben Baces. Ben has been given the task of receiving a “pure homo sapiens,” and the only one either knows is Kumi. Ida and Kumi are inseparable, so Ida is unwilling to do it. She talks to Kumi, and the two come up with a plan to double-cross Ben. Unbeknownst to our heroes, Ben has a heavy named Nim who has her own plans. What follows, Ida, Kumi, Ben, nor Nim probably had in mind.

Heartbreak Quadrant Phase 1 cover by Barrett Stanley
Heartbreak Quadrant Phase 1 cover by Barrett Stanley

Heartbreak Quadrant is high sci-fi action/adventure tale of Ida and Kumi and their adventures. Ida and Kumi are delightful protagonists, and they are greatly endearing. They are a couple of smartasses, with Kumi being the impulsive fighter and Ida being the more restrained planner.

The relationship between Ida and Kumi is very endearing. They play off each other well, you can see why they chose one another, and they’re just generally fantastic leads.

There is also Duane, Kumi’s slug which can produce a hardened dagger out if its tail. I love Duane.

Heartbreak Quadrant has many great characters. Nim is an intimidating near-Terminator. Ben Baces is an interesting villain. Many of his crew are given distinct personalities. There are also other players in this drama who succeed in engaging the reader.

The setting of Heartbreak Quadrant is quite brilliant in itself. Writer/artist Barrett Stanley only gives you what you need to know about this universe, and you’re allowed to put the pieces together from there. We know that there is the “Owner Corporation” who pretty much runs the show. No government is referenced beyond that, and you get the feeling that explored space is probably like the Wild West. Human gene modification is also common, and that is something that the Owner Corporation has commodified. It’s unclear if there is a unified currency; trading collectibles and knickknacks seems to be the main form of payment.

The base functions of the computer see quite similar to how actual computers work (with the exception of molecular manipulation of course). They change code and move files about. That was a nice touch.

There are a lot of creative touches in the concepts and procession of the comic. It has a lot of ideas you just don’t see very often. Honestly, I don’t want to spoil too many of the here to help preserve the surprise should you choose to read it.

It does get a little too cute with the humor at times, occasionally relying on simple spontaneity instead of a good setup and payoff.

However, the comic manages to stay funny and high-action throughout the vast majority of the runtime. The pacing is done very well with very sparse lags. The characters are enjoyable enough to keep you engaged, and the comic is frankly quite brilliant.

Heartbreak Quadrant Phase 1 art by Barrett Stanley
Heartbreak Quadrant Phase 1 art by Barrett Stanley

Barrett Stanley’s artwork is great too. It’s very distinctive and well-textured. The general design aesthetic has a good balance of old and new sci-fi. The colorwork is bright and almost neon at times. This is very effective for the high-flying adventure this comic provides. Some of the fight scenes are shown in such a manner which makes it near impossible to tell what is going on, but that only happens a couple of time, thankfully.

Heartbreak Quadrant is an exciting, energetic, and all-around delightful read. The characters are great, the concepts feel fresh and original, and the art is fantastic to boot. I highly recommend searching this one out and picking it up. Barret Stanley hopefully has a great future in comic books.

Looking it up, I struggled to find Heartbreak Quadrant Phase One for purchase. Goodreads gives links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, which don’t lead to the product. Atomic Empire has it for sure, so you can pick it up there.

Edit: It’s also available for purchase on Storenvy and the Kickstarter for Heartbreak Quadrant: Phase Two

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.