A child’s birth is supposed to be a blessing, right? What happens when that child is a super deformed freak and an entire town has given birth to these types of children? That’s the basic premise to Steve Niles’ (“30 Days of Night”) newest comic “Freaks of the Heartland.”
In a small town called Gristlewood Valley, a young boy named Trevor runs away from home with his deformed brother Will. It appears that Will killed their father. They then decide to find all the kids who are “like” Will. They escape to the land beyond the Valley in order to find a life where kids like Will will not be treated like animals.
The story is well-written and is not too preachy in its message. You actually do feel the bond between Trevor and Will and you do want them to get away from the adults in the town who want them dead. It’s pretty heartwarming.
The dialogue is written so that the characters talk with southern accents, but it’s not to the point where it’s like reading another language. It also gives the comic a certain flavor and sense of identity.
Greg Ruth’s water color used in the comic fits perfectly with the overall tone. The use of dark colors heightens the sense of bleakness and dread of the story. It gives the characters that certain scary look to them. Even the backgrounds are drawn and colored in a way that’s supposed to show that this is a world full of nothing but negative emotions.
There are two gripes about “Freaks of the Heartland” though. Firstly, we see Will with some supernatural powers that are not explained and seem a bit too convenient to the plot (he knows the exact locations of every other deformed child and can breath fire). The second complaint is, though not a bad ending, it’s just rushed and feels like not that much has been accomplished.
But despite those flaws, “Freaks of the Heartland” is still an all around solid comic that has a nice sentimental feel to it. To see these two brothers try to escape from a society that hates both of them without being preachy about people who are born different and the art is what brings it all home.