At the Heart of It All Beats a Rooster

Review by Shaun Daniels and Edited by Sharon Wong

Heart issue #1  Written by Blair Butler, Art & Cover by Kevin Mellon, Letters by Crank! and Published by Image Comics

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is quickly becoming one of the most popular sports in the world, so it comes as no surprise that it has made its way into the lexicon and stories of the comic book world.  Heart is the most current offering that is firmly rooted in MMA.  The book reads like a well-balanced marriage between the love of comic book storytelling and MMA.  Although it is not the first to feature competitive fighting, in one form or another, it is the first venture into comic writing by Blair Butler, who is normally on the other side of the keyboard in regards to comic books.  When it comes to first stabs at writing comics, Butler is starting on a good foot.

At the root of Heart’s story is an underdog tale that follows Oren “Rooster” Redmond as he enters the amateur world of MMA in his hometown of Kansas City.  At the opening of the book, we get to watch one of Oren’s fights, and it doesn’t start off well for him but he does dispatch his opponent.  After the fight, Oren’s past leading up to his entering the world of MMA becomes the subject of the story.  Living a life of mediocrity, Oren longs for the life his older brother has, which is of a fighter.  The book follows Oren’s transformation from automaton drone of the corporate world to that of a fighter.

Butler is doing what many first time writers fail to do, tell a fundamentally sound story.  She is not trying to show off, instead what she doing is telling a good story, something many other writers should take note of.  Having the main character be a person with a boring job and a lackluster life was the perfect choice to engage the reader.  Also, having the character start at the ground floor of MMA allows the readers into the doorway of competitive fighting.  One standout is Oren’s dialogue, in regards to the guys who wear the too tight t-shirts with the metallic writing on it, as it basically sums up the feeling many people have towards said guys.

Mellon really captures the action and excitement of the fights throughout the book.  Often times, static storytelling comes up short in capturing the action but Mellon nails it.  From the facial expressions to the actual stances, the action is rendered perfectly.  The submission holds will have you tapping out by the end of the book.

Lettering is an art form often overlooked by most comic book readers but this book has one of the best in the industry, Crank!.  Throughout the book, Crank! is having fun with the lettering.   The opening title is a tattoo on an audience member of the initial fight, and the fight card design and lettering comes across like a classic video game, which we loved.

You don’t have to be an MMA fan to enjoy this book, just a fan of good storytelling in all aspects.  If you are looking for a break from superhero comics, give Heart a chance.

Feedback is always welcomed at and


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