Border Town #1 Review

 

Border Town #1 is a dark tale of modern social issues and Mexican folklore

 

Art by: Ramon Villalobos
Written by: Eric M. Esquivel
Publisher: DC/Vertigo

 

SPOILERS FOR BORDER TOWN #1 ARE CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE!

 

Vertigo Comics is celebrating their 25th anniversary with the launch of seven new titles beginning with Border Town. Border Town #1 is not for readers who believe in separation of comics and state. This politically charged series tackles social issues faced along the Mexican-American border, while specifically critical of Arizona’s political culture. There’s several parts American Gods as well as Stranger Things aspects within this issue build the story around the political facets of the story.

 

The issue makes its intentions known in the opening scene which follows a migrant family attempting to cross the border in the United States. A gang of armed citizens patrolling the border are hunting the family, but come up short when they find the family being devoured by a massive green monster.

 

The main character is a teenager named Francisco “Frank”, of Irish and Mexican descent, who’s moving to Devil’s Fork, Arizona, a town that lies on the U.S. and Mexican border, against his will. Heavy tensions fill his new high school between Hispanics and Neo-Nazis. There’s little middle ground for Frank, who doesn’t want to be apart of either side, to find sanctuary within.

 

When a school bully and Neo-Nazi mistakes Frank for being purely white, he threatens Frank and challenges to fight him. Frank, fed-up with racial tensions and being labeled based on his ethnicity, gladly accepts the challenge. His frustrations are well illustrated through his pummeling of the Neo-Nazi and having to be restrained to end the fight. That’s when the story turns.

 

A new creature attacks Frank immediately after the fight. Frank wonders aloud why the creature is targeting him with so many others around. Once the creature is scared off, it returns to its base where we get a better look at the monster’s group and leader.

 

Artist Ramon Villalobos gives the book the right gritty vibe of the location, dangers and tension mixed throughout the issue. The one knock I have is Villalobos’ cover, the regular cover, which looks like a lame kids indie book. Jorge Jimenez’s variant cover is amazing and would be a much better attention grabber for readers scanning the new comic book releases.

 

The story was a good mix of suspense and story information. However, Frank was the only character who we really got to know any background on. The creatures too needed a little more information on in regards to their motivations.

 

If politics in comics don’t bother you, this is a good story to get into. The main characters all have potential for unique appeal and the premise is alluring. This series may not reach many top sales categories, but it will most likely make many year-end ‘Top Ten’ lists.

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Kyle Hearn

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