Writer: Julio Anta
Artist: Anna Wieszczyk
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover: Lisa Sterle
Publisher: Image Comics
This comic harnesses shared humanity and emotion to tell a complicated, previously inaccessible story. Home is a compelling read that presents realities that we are less willing to engage with because of our incorrect preconceptions, deliberate complexities injected into politics and policy, and the difficulty of facing painful situations.
The narrative is not terribly complex: A mother and child leave their home country of Guatemala in an attempt to find safety in the United States, but they are met with hostility, cruelty, ignorance, and harm. They find themselves in a system that punishes people for believing that they can find refuge in that country. After a gruelling month-long journey, they arrive on the doorstep of sanctuary only to be denied their freedom. They sleep in a cage, and the son is forcibly separated from his mother without explanation. This is not a hopeless story, though, because sometimes unexpected power lies within.
The dialogue felt normal and sweet; we see people just like us. We can relate to and feel for the characters. Some of the characterizations can be stereotypical or shallow, but there’s only so much a writer can do in the first issue of a five-issue miniseries. The superpower angle felt somewhat awkward and unnecessary. It seemed to detract from the reality of the situation. The story might be less compelling if the boy is going to use superpowers to rectify his situation, because real children will not be able to rely on their superhuman abilities or brute force to solve their problems. Introducing a superpowered slant to the story distracts from the real-world avenues that could be used to approach this real-world problem. Despite the superhuman slant, the storytelling is down to earth and relatable.The art is not hyper realistic because the story is not about the art. The colours are muted, drab, unobtrusive. They blend in and are not distracting.
This is, broadly, a political book, but it’s more than that: it’s a book about humans and humanity. The comic is worth reading because it illuminates a side of an issue that people in North America are likely partially familiar with.
We might feel or sense that immigration policy is not a cut and dry matter, but the storytelling of Home is simple and relies on emotion. We are shown immigration and politics from the point of view of The Other, the people immigrating and seeking asylum. This comic immediately reveals the human side of the equation. Generally, if something does not directly affect a person, then it can be difficult to motivate them to care about an issue; if people living in the United States are not directly affected by immigration policy, they might adopt a more self-centered and distanced view of immigration and immigrants. Home elicits an emotional response in an attempt to get us to care.
This is an important book. While it might feel a bit late to criticize an administration that is no longer in power, the problems at the border did not end when a new president was elected; anything that encourages and enables empathy is important. Home bridges the gap between words or concepts and the real ramifications for actual human beings.
It should be mentioned that it is not guaranteed that every interaction at the border would be so devastating. Some immigrants might have it better or worse. Some officers might treat asylum-seekers more humanely, while others treat them more reprehensibly; some officers might feel worse than others about it. This story speaks to the fact that these stories are real and happening. The narrative takes elements from the news and from policy to show us what they mean in the real world for real humans. It’s enough for this comic to show us what it means for people to be having these experiences at all, even if not all experiences are identical to this narrative. How could they be? This is a good way to start thinking about the inhumane conditions being forced upon average people.
What does it mean for children to be separated from parents? Read Home and find out.