Wigan moved top of the Premier League after consigning Roy Keane's Sunderland to their first defeat of the season.
Heskey scored after 19 minutes with a crisp strike
Emile Heskey hooked a cross home with his right foot before Danny Landzaat doubled their lead with a penalty after Danny Collins fouled Antoine Sibierski.
Russell Anderson brought down Heskey for Sibierski to score Wigan's second penalty in the space of seven minutes.
Michael Chopra and Daryl Murphy were both denied by Chris Kirkland saves but the Latics undoubtedly deserved to win.
Wigan, fresh from their midweek defeat of Middlesbrough, played with confidence and vigour, never hesitating to push forward.
Heskey, in particular, was a real menace and the Black Cats struggled to come to terms with his pace and strength.
Chris Hutchings's team now have six points from their opening three games, moving ahead of Everton at the summit of the table on goal difference.
The Latics had four first-half penalty appeals turned down by referee Mike Riley - with Greg Halford twice fortunate to escape unpunished.
First came a challenge from behind on Jason Koumas before Halford later appeared to impede Heskey as the Wigan striker tried to chase down a back-pass.
There was no denying Heskey, however, when it came to his 19th-minute strike, the 29-year-old converting Luis Antonio Valencia's right-wing cross from six yards.
Valencia found himself in acres of space as he controlled the ball before picking out Heskey but Sunderland can feel unfortunate in that Heskey was in an offside position when the cross was delivered.
Heskey almost scored a second goal minutes before the break but Craig Gordon was equal to his powerful header.
Sunderland, with four changes from the team that drew at Birmingham in midweek, struggled to find any fluency but nonetheless twice came close to scoring in the opening half.
Chopra forced an excellent fingertip save from Kirkland with a free-kick while Kieran Richardson's deft through-ball picked out Murphy but the Irishman's low shot was again well saved.
Sunderland, with Danny Collins and Liam Miller introduced at the break, almost equalised when Halford's teasing cross eluded everyone except Murphy only for the 24-year-old to take his eye off the ball at the crucial moment.
Ross Wallace then made a crisp contact but saw his strike blocked by Andreas Granqvist - and despite Sunderland's efforts it was Wigan who scored the decisive second goal.
Paul McShane was off the field after a clash of heads left him with a bleeding cut and, in his absence, makeshift central defender Collins hauled Sibierski to the ground as they tussled for the ball.
Wigan, frustrated with so many first-half penalty appeals, were not to be denied this time and Landzaat made no mistake from the spot.
McShane's injury led to his withdrawal and his replacement - Russell Anderson - brought down Heskey for a second penalty, which Sibierski drilled down the middle of the goal.
Sunderland had scored in their previous 18 Premier League and Championship fixtures but the nearest the game came to a fourth goal was via a deflection off Collins that Gordon did well to clear.
Wigan manager Chris Hutchings:
"It is always important to win your home games and we have done that very well.
"When you are winning it is good for confidence. We have brought quality players to the club and it does not take them long to settle in.
"It is a nice start to the season but there is a long, long way to go."
Sunderland manager Roy Keane:
"I always tend to focus on the performance and it was not good enough. We learnt a lot last season on the back of one or two defeats.
"Overall the game was disappointing, we gave three sloppy goals away but I found out about different people.
"All the players are invited on this journey with us but one or two will fall by the wayside."
Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Granqvist, Kilbane, Valencia, Scharner (Brown 83), Landzaat, Koumas, Heskey (Folan 78), Sibierski (Aghahowa 76).
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Hall.
Goals: Heskey 19, Landzaat 62 pen, Sibierski 69 pen.
Sunderland: Gordon, Halford, Nosworthy, McShane (Anderson 62), Wallace, Richardson, Etuhu, Yorke (Collins 46), Murphy, Chopra, Stokes (Miller 46).
Subs Not Used: John, Connolly.
Booked: Collins, Etuhu.
Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).