Written by Barbara Randall Kesel
Art by Staz Johnson
Published by Marvel Comics
Buy it Digitally from comiXology
Well, I wasn’t expecting that.
Have you ever wanted to see a 1980s/90s-style romantic comedy wedged into the middle of a superhero story? Or a meet-cute between a paramedic and a police officer during the bunker scenes in the 2014 Godzilla movie?
Then Barbara Randall Kesel, Staz Johnson and Tom Palmer have a story for you with “Heart Rate,” the latest in the Marvels Snapshots series.
Kurt Busiek, who wrote the original Marvels in 1994 and is curating this sequel-ish return to that world, had more of the 1940s through ’60s in mind as the landscape of his childhood and America’s collective past.
However, 30 years on, it’s been interesting to see that time frame shift to my childhood, just as oldies stations are now playing U2 and Van Halen. That 1980s feeling comes through strongly in from the jump as we meet Kerry, a small-town girl trying to make it in New York. Kitted out in a leotard and legwarmers, Kerry’s overstayed her welcome at a friend’s place and way behind on even baking dog treats for a Working Girl-attired neighbor.
Kesel packs the issue with that serve-and-volley dialogue you expect, where Kerry’s got a zinger for every comment thrown her way. We even get a Cathy-styled “ack,” for good measure!
Just as Kerry’s about to head off to her next bit of business, some gigantic robot has stepped into the street. From Kerry’s point of view, we can’t even see what the robot is, and we get the smallest glimpses of the Avengers showing up to neutralize the danger (or at least move it to another borough).
We don’t know what evil plot is afoot. There’s only the disaster, the destruction, the death and injury. For all the rom-com cheese between paramedic Kerry and rookie cop Jay – he grabs her arm to get her to the safety zone, and she’s all, “Don’t bother saving me, I’m saving them” – Kesel also lays down gravity about this life-or-death situation where not every bystander here is going to survive.
But don’t worry, this isn’t a full nail-biter.
The story, itself a recollection through Kerry’s letter to her younger sister back in Ohio, is filled with other folks’ anecdotes and stories. To keep people calm in the bunker, Jay invites folks to talk about the times they ran into New York’s famed superheroes. After all, in the Marvel world, New York isn’t just New York. It’s the place with all the supers.
There’s that time Wonder Man flubbed asking a woman out. Or when Daredevil sprung out of nowhere to foil a mugging. A dock worker witnessing Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel fight Absorbing Man. The stories keep the panic away, if not the fear.
One of those stories of superhero encounters is connected to the turn of events in that bunker, of course. Along with more lessons of the many ways that heroes can save lives.
The original Marvels was traditionally male in its Americana, too. Its POV character and its themes of fatherhood, obligation and heroism shifted women to the background. Common in storytelling overall, and comics is no exception. So, it’s refreshing to see some different storytelling in this issue.
Enjoy a little romance!