Border Town #2 – Eric M. Esquivel, Writer; Ramon Villalobos, Artist; Tamra Bonvillain, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: With a second issue that’s less broad and more mythology-driven than the first, Border Town comes into its own as a great sci-fi/fantasy satire that kicks off the new wave of Vertigo with a bang.
Eric M. Esquivel’s story picks up after a group of four teens accidentally uncovered a mysterious supernatural threat infiltrating their small Arizona town. A flashback shows how the buff, masked Quinteh first got his luchador mask years ago, and it’s a surprisingly sweet tale about how a parent letting a kid be themselves can make all the difference. In the present day, Quinteh, Julietta, Aimi, and Frank are trying to decide on their next move. For a mix of reasons – including Julietta’s undocumented status and the fact that they’d just be assumed to be crazy – they all decide to keep quiet. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t last – Quinteh soon encounters the baby Chupacabra again, protecting it from its larger, meaner brothers. It’s a boy-and-his-dog story, but a very unconventional one.
Oh, and then there’s the little matter of the mysterious skeleton monster that we encountered at the end of last issue. He turns out to be the dark king of a realm of monsters from Mexico folklore – including some of the most famous monsters and horrors the country’s ever conceived, including La Llorona. He deputizes them to head back into the real world and punish any escapees.
Esquivel’s concept about “border jumpers” and what drives them to escape wouldn’t work in the hands of a lesser writer – comparing humans to inhuman beings rarely work – but this series has a light touch and a lot of compassion for all its subjects. I was glad racist bully Blake didn’t play a big role in this issue – he was the weakest part of the first issue – but it seems some nasty stuff is coming for him. By the end of the issue, we’ve got a good idea of the larger plot at work here, but more importantly – we’ve been given a reason to care about the kids caught up in it. This feels like classic Vertigo for the modern age.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.