Writer: Julio Anta
Artist: Anna Wieszczyk
Color Artist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover Artist: Lisa Sterle
Publisher: Image Comics
Superhero books have long reflected the social and political challenges of their times. The X-Men were initially inspired by the Civil Rights movement. Superman has fought for issues from prison reform to helping the environment. In the first issue of Home, writer Julio Anta and artist Anna Wieszczyk continue this important tradition. A new protagonist rises against the troubled backdrop of United States’ immigration issues: the unassuming Juan Gomez, a Guatemalan child.
In Home #1, we get a taste of how harsh immigration policies impact refugees, through the eyes of Gomez, who is seeking asylum with his mother, Mercedes. Strong pacing from Anta, observant yet stylized art from Wieszczyk, and vibrant textured colors from Bryan Valenza immerse us in a painfully real world of train cars, border crossings, and detention centers.
We don’t know much about our main characters yet, but it’s hard not to identify with their confusion as they are swept up in circumstances beyond their control. Their back story alludes to past trauma and could easily be the subject of a future issue.
We also see the marginalization of individuals at the border who are mostly non-English speakers. Much of their conversation is actually happening in Spanish (shown in electric orange lettering from Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou), and while a translator is provided for our main characters, he doesn’t seem to be telling them the whole story.
The urgency of the color, which expresses words mostly suppressed or ignored, reinforces the feeling of frustration against a dehumanizing system. Sometimes the dialogue seems a little on the nose, but I appreciate that the team was probably trying to cover a lot of ground in this first issue.
It’s a testament to the book’s skillful story construction and emotive art that I found myself more and more angry as I turned the pages. And while some of the antagonists so far seem very cruel, other enforcers seem mostly caught within the cruel gears of the system, a touch I appreciated. Anta has a history of socially aware storytelling, and I’m interested to see more of his work.
I did not read anything about Home before I read this issue. Because of this, I didn’t predict the “twist”. I actually cheered.
Home’s fantasy angle also helps rescue it from a heavy darkness, allowing us to keep looking at the subject head-on, processing it safely, while knowing that the reality may be far bleaker for some families. In this case, the true hope is us, the readers. If enough of us care, change is possible.
So far, Home looks to be an entertaining story for audiences both young and old. And with any luck, the story will also inspire readers to learn more about current affairs.
As with most first issues, there are many questions left unanswered. I, for one, want to see what happens to Juan and Mercedes, and how Juan’s powers will unfold.