The season of love is upon us all, and Vault Comics has blessed comic fans with a new horror story following queer characters in a futuristic space opera called Hollow Heart. Fresh takes on any love story can be hit or miss, especially with LGBTQ+ characters, but writer Paul Allor (Guardians of the Galaxy) beautifully navigates both authentic relationships and an engaging story.
At face value, Hollow Heart is a space opera brimming with cybernetic meta-humans and hulked-out super soldiers oozing with testosterone. All are two men in the middle of it; El, who is encased in his own mechanical prison, and Mateo, the mechanic charged with keeping him functioning.
As El's consistent escape attempts require more of Mateo's time to repair his subsequent mechanical damage, the two men grow closer through shared empathy for feeling trapped – El in his own body and Mateo in the routine of meaningless hookups. Mateo has a way of seeing the world in a different and profound way, and through his unique outlook on the world, he feels the need to help El escape once and for all.
Allor spoke about his project, highlighting that it really was a story about interpersonal acknowledgment, stating that:
"Empathy is a tool and a burden and a gift. When we see someone in a state of joy, we feel our own spirits lifted; and when we see someone in pain, we realize their pain is hurting us, as well. There are countless stories about people with a pathological lacking of empathy, distorting their view of the people around them…
But Hollow Heart is about what happens when a largesse of empathy does the same thing. It's about the overwhelming desire to relieve someone's burden and how that desire can warp our view of someone, transforming them from a complex being with conflicting wants and desires into something more abstract: a person defined only by their pain and by the need; to remove it."
Allor, along with artist Paul Tucker (Dystopian Dream Girl), team up once again (previously having worked on Tet) to create a flashy comic intertwined with a blossoming love story in Vault's horror imprint NIGHTFALL. The comic comes off only the way an effortless pairing of creative talent could, drawing the story along so well that before you know, the issue has ended.
Set to release this February, Hollow Heart is the next best thing you should be reading this year. With Vault Comics only planning on running their NIGHTFALL titles for a calendar year, they've hit the ground running with a strong introduction to something new well written.