Story and Art by: Maria Llovett
Lettered by: Andworld Design
Translated by: Andrea Rosenberg
One method for checking a person’s pulse or heartbeat is through the carotid artery in the neck. That same artery is associated with the erotic activity of breath play. This is the same artery used to initiate the sleeper hold. It is amazing how one artery manipulated differently can have such different purposes and results. A great deal of trust and power is being offered to allow someone to put their hands around your neck.
Despite Heartbeat # 4 seemingly focusing on Eva and her relationships, the unsolved murder of Amber doesn’t suffer from this. Instead, Eva’s actions and interactions with her three classmates keep the plotline involving Amber’s murder moving along. By the issue’s end, Eva is no longer certain who she can trust, who has the power dynamic in each relationship and what each relationship or partner will ask of her next.
Heartbeat Issue # 4 starts by introducing a new dynamic to the three relationships Eva has found herself involved in. With Donatien, Eva has a new and exciting relationship. The secret shared between the two allows the formation of a relationship that she would otherwise not have indulged in. Empowered by this new status Eva causes changes in the dynamics of her other relationships. With Mack, we see her allegiance to Donatien force her to choose between her childhood friend and her new lover. As for Violetta, Eva feels emboldened to turn the tables and bully her once bully.
The art of the issue continues to beautifully detail every action and emotion of this series. The use of a small palette with subtle colors allows the art to propel the story and not overpower it. The colors also serve to keep the tone of the issue morbidly somber. This helps convince the reader this isn’t a happy ever after story, rather a tragic tale.
Previous issues I felt Llovett also made excellent choices when to allow the images to tell the story. This issue had more dialogue this made the pages feel busier and less enjoyable for me. The first issue saw a quiet and reflective Eva always yielding. Issue # 4 finds a young woman struggling for power. It is during these power plays with Mack, Don, and Violetta that the conversation fills the pages. This changes the books beautiful pacing. It also makes me feel less sympathetic towards Eva. It is uncomfortable to watch Eva feel powerful for what may be the first time in her life. Knowing this power was due to unfortunate circumstances makes it worse. It’s only a matter of time before some tragic fate befalls Eva. She just doesn’t notice the hand around her neck or why it’s there.