When Brian Azzarello (of That Damned Batpenis fame) and artist Maria Llovet launched their erotic thriller Faithless earlier this year, it became quite the hit for Boom Studios, somehow doubling orders at FOC and still needing multiple printings to satisfy the demand. It also might be the book that kicked off the Boom and Image feud that I'm told very much continues to this day, as their Marvel vs DC rivalry results in some big hits for both companies.
Though I'm sure Eric Stephenson would like to remind Ross Richie who just sold 83,000 copies of their big new creator-owned launch in Undiscovered Country, with a million-dollar movie deal behind it.
But even if US fans didn't know Maria Llovet's name until Faithless became one of the bigger creator owned success stories of the year – with over 35,000 copies sold of the first issue – there were many fans in Europe who knew her for her edgy work and Boom! is betting her US fans will also fall in love with her new series Heartbeat.
During NYCC, we warned you that Heartbeat could be a sleeper hit for BOOM! (https://bleedingcool.com/2019/10/03/brian-azzarello-and-maria-llovets-faithless-returns-in-2020/), with Faithless fans looking for their fix of provocative and sexy storytelling – though not the same erotic and adult content that caused some controversy.
Well, I'm told that those who've read the PDF – it's been shared with Boom's trusted network of retailers and press, so complain to them if you're not in that club – are comparing to Faithless very directly (and favourably). There is a lot of the same dark and heavy subtext that permeated Faithless, but whereas that series went deep into exploring sexuality, Heartbeat is leaning more heavily into much more perilous teen subject matter like domestic abuse, depression and sexual assault. While this isn't an Adults Only book, it's squarely aimed at older teenagers (not unlike Image's Deadly Class) – and even some of them might be unsettled by how explicitly this book depicts those issues.
Oh, and there's what seems to be a supernatural element – with a murder by the end of the first issue that sets the tone for what is much more like Riverdale than Twilight.
And now that we're hearing there's a soon-to-be-announced FOC variant cover to the issue, I would expect collectors to chase after it at prices even bigger than both the Lee Bermejo cover to Faithless #1 – which still sells for over $8 – and the Jenny Frison variant to Something is Killing The Children #1 – which is still a $12 comic. Remember that Heartbeat #1 will likely ship in lower quantities than both those books, no matter the heat Boom is seeing on its creator owned launches of late.
So if you're a retailer who remembers what Faithless did for your readers – and speculators – then you might want to double check those Heartbeat numbers before it FOCs on Monday, because Boom is betting that the controversy in this issue will drive quite a bit of chatter…and sales. If those Faithless fans do snap up copies, we could very well be left with a same day – or earlier – sell out that makes getting a second printing challenging, like we've seen with so many Boomseries of late (and prompting Filip Sablik to issue an apology).
We'll know if they're right on Wednesday, November 20th when Heartbeat #1 hits stores.