Border Town #1
Writer: Eric M. Esquivel
Artist, Cover Artist: Ramon Villalobos
Variant Cover Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Publisher: DC’s Vertigo
Review by Anelise Farris
Border Town #1 takes place in Devil’s Fork, Arizona, a town located on the border of Mexico and the US that, due to recent events, now doubles as a crossing-over point for dangerous creatures from Mexican folklore. In a racially-charged town, where all unexplained troubles get blamed on immigrants, a bunch of mischief-causing monsters only increases the racial tension. So, new kid Frank and his band of high-school misfits join together to figure out just what is really going on with the border (and not the literal one).
Folklore is inherently political, so it’s no surprise that the two subjects come together in really interesting ways in Border Town #1. Anxiety stemming from cultural change and our fear of those unlike us has been embodied in folklore since the beginning, but the way that this comic tackles contemporary immigration politics through folklore is a unique one. That said, this issue struggles a bit on balancing the monsters and the politics. At times, the racial tension feels forced and insincere. I have hope, however, that this creative team will figure out their rhythm as the series progresses.
While the writing is a little rocky in this first issue, the art and lettering are fantastic. The sketch-like, more rough-around-the-edges style, gives this comic such a cool, punk rock aesthetic, with gorgeous coloring to match. And, at various points in Border Town #1, the art does a nice job of adding subtle bits of humor to alleviate the heaviness of the story being told. Finally, when a letterer takes the time to use speech balloon borders, fonts, and color to communicate tone, it has to be commended. And here, Deron Bennett’s attention to detail brings the characters to life.
Verdict: Buy it.
Border Town #1 finds Frank wondering if his “Guillermo Del Toro-style nightmare” is real or just fantasy. And, while the monsters might be fantasy, the issues that this comic addresses are all too real. If you like quirky comics that make you think, this series is for you.