Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Border Town #1 Review

Just Desert(s)

Writer: Eric M Esquivel
Artist: Ramon Villalobos, Tamara Bonvillain and Deron Bennett
Publisher: Vertigo
Release Date: September 5, 2018
Cover Price: $3.99

When a crack in the border between worlds releases an army of monsters from Mexican folklore, the residents of Devil’s Fork, AZ, blame the ensuing weirdness—the shared nightmares, the otherworldly radio transmissions, the mysterious goat mutilations—on “God-dang illegals.” With racial tensions supernaturally charged, it’s up to new kid in town Frank Dominguez and a motley crew of high school misfits to discover what’s really going on in this town torn between worlds. 

The issue opens in Devil's Fork, Arizona and while the gathered (and armed men) talk shit on immigrants who dare cross the border from Mexico, we see one such family trying to escape to a new life.  While this opening scene gets a little too political for my tastes, things change suddenly.  I'll admit that if the change from political to supernatural would have taken a page or two more, I would have put the issue down and never read on.  However, it happened at possibly the perfect time and the book immediately had me intrigued.

Eric M Esquivel is playing with a lot of things in this issue...coming of age, being the outcast, racism and more.  Again, not exactly my cup of tea, but Esquivel is so good here at making me care about his characters that I had to go on.

The lead, Frank, is such a fully realized character...a smart ass who is also nice and more than a little pissed off that he had to move to Arizona to live with his mother and her long-distance boyfriend.  The other characters are just as fleshed out and just as good, even if they can be pieces of shit as well.

While a supernatural horror story is brewing in the background, we go through Frank's first day of school and by the end, it might as well have been a prison setting.  By no fault of his own, he has to fight a Nazi skinhead and that may be the most normal thing that happens.

I don't want to spoil too much, but the book becomes a mashup of "Three O'Clock High" and They Live with demons instead of aliens and no glasses required.  We are left with an epilogue that kind of begins to explain things, but the mystery is what this is all about.

I liked this issue a whole lot.  I am not a political guy at all, but I can go with the idea that the hate that seems to be brewing in our country (and the world) could cause some sort of supernatural, demonic troubles and that's where this book seems like it's going.  I am sure some will avoid because of where they lie on the issues, but besides all that, Eric M Esquivel is giving the reader a nice bunch of characters and a crazy horror mystery to follow.  Throw in Ramon Villalobos' gritty art and Vertigo just might have a winner on their hands.

Bits and Pieces:

This is a really good horror mystery book with some kick-ass characters that I want to see more of. Sure, I don't really know what's going on yet, but that's part of the fun and I have my theories.  Good art and an interesting story make this one easy to recommend.


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