People around the Appalachian area of the United States are familiar with the Mothman, but as the supernatural linchpin in a horror story, he can seem rather one-dimensional: red eyes, flapping wings, might have something to do with UFOs. It takes a brave soul to tackle the Mothman, but Heath Amodio and Cullen Bunn have added more to the Mothman mythos by taking it out of the mountains and closer to natural and man-made disasters in Hustle & Heart: Foretold.
The story, created by Bunn and written by Amodio, follows recently widowed history professor Derek Flynn, who has a habit of disappearing for days at a time only to appear at the sight of natural disasters. This has naturally vexed his daughter Casey while also making him a person of interest to the US government who want to know why he is at the scene of all these disasters. Derek himself would like some answers and, with only his daughter and therapist wanting to help him, he must stay one step ahead of the FBI and a cult that believes that Derek is somehow a chosen one. Also, there’s a weird flying creature to which Derek is strangely connected and he might not like the answers he receives.
A lot of this book is about laying down the foundation of this universe. Why is Derek waking up next to these disasters? What is his relationship with his still living daughter who he has basically abandoned? What happened to his wife? And what happened between him and his therapist? These questions are subtly answered, but readers might finish this particular book with more questions than when they went in, which could be both good and bad. It’s good if a story with few details revealed tantalizes readers so they read the next issue, but bad if it ultimately frustrates them and they simply move on to another story in their TBR pile.
A minimalist approach works best with the Mothman in this story. Angelo Razzano’s illustrations of the Mothman, mostly indistinct, winged shapes and large red eyes, serve to add the appropriate level of mystique to the character and makes sense for how he actually plays into the tale’s events. This especially works as the realism in Razzano’s faces, not only looking distinct from one another but showing a wide range of emotions, creates a more solid reality of which the Mothman is not a part.
Foretold is a good beginning to a story, with emphasis on the word “beginning.” The way it ends might make readers want to read more, but it also might leave them far from being satisfied. Yes, it’s a different and interesting take on the Mothman that veers into the superheroic as well as the supernatural, but librarians might want to wait for an omnibus or more volumes to the story before diving into the weirdness.
Hustle and Heart: Foretold
By Heath Amodio
Art by Angelo Razzano
Oni Press, 2023
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)