Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Twilight Children #1 Review and *SPOILERS*

All Balls Don’t Bounce

Written By: Gilbert Hernandez
Art By: Darwyn Cooke, Dave Stewart
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: October 14, 2015

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Here’s a tip: when you see Gilbert Hernandez’s name on a comic book, you buy it. Here’s another tip: when you see Darwyn Cooke’s name on anything, you buy it. Don’t hesitate, don’t whine, don’t act “over” anything, just slide your goddamned money that you probably would have spent on drugs or candy bars across the counter of your local comic book shop and exclaim your praises to the holy mother of God that you are allowed to hold such a work in your greasy, sullied hands. I had high expectations going into the first issue of the Twilight Children, but was my faithfulness well-founded? Where do you think we could learn how I felt about this book? Seems like it should be somewhere around here, it would be stupid for me to pose these questions when…oh yeah! Read on and find out!

Explain It!:

Professional piscator Anton returns to what looks like a small Mexican fishing village and his buxom, chain-smoking girlfriend Tito. They seem to have a nice relationship, save for the fact that Tito is married to fashion retailer Nikolas, who manages a boutique in town named for his wife. This vexes Anton, but he agrees to meet with Tito later on for a tryst because, you know, men are pigs.

Meanwhile, over at the shoreline, shack-dwelling drunk Bundo chases a trio of kids away from a rocky cave near his home, a task he performs daily with resolute glee. The scene could turn creepy really fast, but then the kids notice a large, glowing white orb sitting in the water a hundred or so yards away from shore. They get Bundo, who calls the local cops.

All of this is relayed in the first seven pages of the comic with very little exposition. If you want a primer on how to make an economical, readable comic book, the Twilight Children would be a good place to start. Bundo gets the police down to the shore, where we learn that these glowing orbs appearance is a regularly-occuring thing here in nameless fishing village, though no one seems to know anything about their origin or purpose. Seems they sometimes appear at night, then disappear before daybreak without anyone seeing where they’ve gone. Bundo agrees to guard the orb overnight in wait for a scientist to be sent from the Institute…of researching weird glowy orbs, I guess. Of course, he gets drunk and falls asleep, then awakens to find the orb has vanished. Ashamed, he runs off into the woods, leaving his shack unattended. Meanwhile, back in town, we learn that Nikolas will be away at a convention for a few days, and teasingly offers Anton an invitation to dinner for when he returns…something smells fishy around here, and it’s not the tonnage quantity of fish.

Later, the kids take advantage of Bundo’s disappearance to enter the dangerous cave near his shack, and find one of the orbs half sticking out of the ceiling! The little girl touches it, which draws a big bolt of lightning and a wicked storm. The entire town is thrown into disarray right as a rakish, chain-smoking scientist from the Institute arrives, just in time to save a baby being blown about by the wind. The storm ends abruptly, and the three children emerge from the cave, their eyes completely white: they’ve been rendered blind! The town blames the scientist, the scientist blames the orb, and Tito seems to have eyes for this new character in town, who, at the very least, won’t give her a lot of shit for smoking.

I could not do this comic book justice in a review and I didn’t even try to encompass all of the detail in this story. It is so expertly-written, and each page is a complete delight to look at. Hernandez and Cooke demonstrate their veteran storytelling abilities by using all that the language of comic books has to offer. We don’t need captions telling us where we are, or long-winded bits of dialogue that tell us what’s going on, the words and pictures work together relay a deepening mystery, one that I’m likely going to follow to its conclusion. Some of the dialogue is a little strange, but I think that’s because it is being automatically translated from Spanish or people are speaking a form of broken English—in any case, it’s one small bit of consternation about a comic book that is in every other aspect a complete success.

Bits and Pieces:

There’s a pretty fascinating mystery here that involves some complex characters and dicey situations, but really Twilight Children is an expertly executed comic on every level and should be enjoyed by anyone that isn’t a moron or an asshole. Hernandez’s dialogue reads like broken English at times, which can be at once endearing and odd. Cooke’s art and plotting is phenomenal here. Do yourself a favor and buy this book, and then write to apologizing for your insolence. Any sort of general obsequious supplication will do.

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