Empathy is a good thing, but sometimes giving someone what you think will help them might not be the best choice. In Vault Comics Hollow Heart, the concept of empathy and how our choices affect those we care about take center stage. Written and lettered by Paul Allor, Paul Tucker takes on art and colors while Tim Daniel is on designs.

Hollow HeartThe synopsis from the publisher is below:

EL used to be human. Now he’s a jumble of organs in a bio-suit. EL is also in tremendous pain and has been for a very long time. Hope arrives in the form of Mateo, a mechanic brought in to work on EL’s suit. Mateo sees LK in a way no one ever has. And what’s more: Mateo offers EL an escape.

Hollow HeartHollow Heart reunites Tet creators Paul Allor and Paul Tucker for a queer monster love story about the choices we make between giving our loved one what they want and what we think they need.”

Allor explained in a statement:

“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 in 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 be their pain, and by the need to remove it.

Beyond this central narrative, artist and co-creator Paul Tucker and I are crafting a story that uses the comics format to explore empathy in all its forms, using intertwined tales to create a slow-burn story that’s both broad-ranging and emotionally claustrophobic, hopeful and horrifying, tender and ultimately brutal. In other words, you’re gonna love it.”

Tucker added:

“One of my favourite experiences watching a film is when a character arrives on screen and without saying a word, I am already in their corner. I’m rooting for them and feeling what they feel. I find this all the more effective when the actor is someone I’m not familiar with – no baggage attached.

Creating comics gives me a chance to ‘cast an unknown’ for every new project. I can put down lines on paper and find that connection, regardless of the characters background or behaviour. The creation is an empathetic act.

With Hollow Heart this process becomes meta, as it reflects the book’s main theme. Hollow Heart is indeed about empathy, and more crucially it explores the dangers of empathy.”

Hollow Heart #1 is available today, Wednesday, February 17. Look for a cover from Tucker as well as one from Daniel and Nathan Gooden. Read a few preview pages here before grabbing your copy.