"Border Town #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Vertigo Comics
Written by Eric M. Esquivel
Illustrated by Ramon Villalobos
Colored by Tamra Bonvillain
Lettered by Deron Bennett
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on September 5th, 2018
High school sucks for just about everybody, but Frank has some extra level of trouble. He's the new kid in Devil's Fork, Arizona, and he's already got a target on his back from the local white power kids. Add to that the hole that's been opened on the border between the US and Mexico and the monsters that can come through, and you've got yourself one weird and painful yearbook.
Border Town gets moving quickly by scaring the crap out of you within the first few pages. A Mexican family is making their way over the border to what they hope is safety and prosperity. What they find is a giant sombrero-wearing monster with rows upon rows of teeth and a hunger for human flesh. We don't see the actual acts of violence. Instead we see a blood-soaked stuffed animal and Deron Bennett's letters filling the page with frantic cries for help.
The next chunk of the comic is spent introducing Frank and the various supporting characters in his life. This is not without its scares, although they're pushed to the background for these scenes. Instead, writer Eric M. Esquivel makes us care about Frank. He could have been another grumpy teenager with a chip on his shoulder, but we quickly learn there's much more going on here, especially after he has a run-in with some local kids.
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The fan-favorite character of Border Town is sure to be Quinteh, a huge kid wearing a Superman t-shirt and a luchador mask. He's like Sloth from The Goonies and you can't help but love him and his good nature. He comes in during a pivotal moment in this issue and I can't wait to see him tangle with these monsters.
Speaking of the monsters, artist Ramon Villalobos makes some terrifying beasts. They might have once been human, but now they're these hulking creatures made of claws, teeth, and madness. It's amazing to see how large their jaws can open when it comes to biting people.
These things take the form of what we fear the most. There's a great page where people are recoiling in terror seeing something that frightens them. Almost all of them have to deal with race ranging from the aforementioned sombrero guy to a Nazi straight out of Charlottesville. One Batman-loving kid is afraid of Bane, which I can understand.
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It's very clear that Border Town is pulling no punches. Race plays a major part in the story. It's not shown as a “More You Know” message or something preachy. It just lays bare these fears that lurk just beneath the surface of everyday America. If these monsters get out, a wall along the border isn't going to help anyone on either side.
You can feel the heat of the desert in Border Town. Devil's Fork is the kind of town where you can break into a sweat by just standing up. Tamra Bonvillain's colors give off this warm vibe with bright yellows and oranges that make it feel like the sun is beating down on these characters. It's no wonder tensions flare up so quickly.
Border Town is off to a tremendous start. It's established the main characters and thrown them into utter chaos thanks to an encounter with an insane and frightening monster. This issue closes out with a jaw-dropping image giving us an idea of the caliber of supernatural creatures we can expect from the rest of the series. Plus, eagle-eyed DC fans will find several references to other properties like Sandman, Wonder Woman, and more, so you get a fun Easter Egg hunt as a bonus to all the terror.