Home #1 is a potent reminder that while fiction can ultimately do very little to alter the horror outcomes of reality, it can at least offer solace in the guise of revisionist — and cathartic — fantasy.
When a young boy is torn away from his mother while seeking asylum at the U.S. border, something begins to change in him, and it isn’t just the trauma, anxiety, and guilt you’d expect. He doesn’t know it yet, but it’s the onset of superhuman abilities that will change his life forever.
JULIO ANTA and ANNA WIESZCZYK debut with a deeply grounded and heartfelt five-issue series that explores the real-world implications of a migrant with extraordinary powers.
Let me be very clear: the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy was a loathsome piece of legislation. The systematic separation of families at the southern border as a matter of practice to punish and deter immigration was a foul and cruel agenda. It turned a generation of children — some of them infants — into thousands of political hostages. Home #1 (of a five-issue series) is exactly about the repercussions of those separations told from the migrants’ perspective and hinting at what could only be delivered right now with fiction: accountability, catharsis and closure. Not to mention, a bit of payback.
The story by Julio Anta pulls quite the balancing act: letting the inhumanity of the situation speak for itself and not fall into melodrama. Well, mostly. A scene involving an orange (historically, never a good omen) toes the line of incredulity, but then again, the reality of it all is much worse than what’s imagined here.
It would be easy to make the antagonists — in this case officers of the United States government who enforce the law and new policy with varying degrees of satisfaction and hesitation– into hissing and snarling caricatures.
But this is where the saddest realization comes online: Anta didn’t have to. The real antagonist is the setting. When the main characters (mother and son Mercedes and Juan Gomez, two asylum seekers from Guatemala) are eventually separated from each other, the screws tighten and the real bad guys — and gals — start to show up. Anyone with a social media account will be able to recognize them by the dialogue coming out of their mouths.
I don’t know how much research Anta and artist Anna Wieszczyk put into this story, but based on reports that have been written about detention centers, like the “icebox” where the asylum immigrants are kept in during processing, the details here sound and look accurate. Props to colorist Bryan Valenza and letterer Hassan Otsome-Elhaou for their effective use of color to highlight not only the different languages and settings, but the emotional resonance of each escalating situation.
Much like with the movie Get Out, the real horror is in knowing that when it comes to everyday oppression, only in a movie can a Black American ever truly “get out.” Here, only a detained immigrant with a mysterious power has the best opportunity to find their way “home.”
This is fiction much in the same way Quentin Tarantino rewrote Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood into revisionist fables. We know how those stories really ended. Here, with the separated children in real life, the ending is not in sight but closer than it was a year ago. I can only hope that Home — or reality, really — doesn’t have to change the ending too far from what these kids deserve: justice, freedom, and restitution.
There is nothing more powerless than the feeling of futility. At least with Home, we can find some solace in it.
Home #1 on sale April 14 by Image Comics; written by Julio Anta, art by Anna Wieszczyk, colored by Bryan Valenza, lettered by Hassan Otsome-Elhaou, Cover by Lisa Sterle