UPDATE: After four issues, Vertigo has canceled Border Town in light of allegations of abusive treatment of women. I had not read the fourth issue yet, and canceled the book from my pull list before the announcement of cancellation. Also, both Tamra Bonvillain and Ramon Villalobos left the book before cancellation.
Frank’s family have moved Devil’s Fork Arizona…a small town on the border…well, two borders. One the Arizona/Mexico border…and another between our world and the land of the dead, ruled by Mictlantecutli. Monsters are slipping into our world and attacking people.
Frank is just trying to fly under the radar, but he attracts the attention of the local racist skinhead…This leads to him begrudgingly becoming friends with Julietta, Aimi and Quinteh. After they witness monsters attacking local skinhead Blake, they find out from a local woman that they may have just entered a battle to defend the town (and greater world) whether they want to or not.
At the same time, a young Chupacabra desires to be free of the brutality of his homewrld (the land of the dead). After Mictlantecutli declares the creature must be punished, it flees and seeks the help of ur intrepid group of friends.
The cast of the book is a lot of fun, especially Quinteh. As a young boy, he took to wearing a luchador mask to feel more confident, and has never removed it since. There is a lot of mystery here…what is the long term goal of Mictlantecutli? What about Frank’s lineage has tied him to this town?
There were a few moments in the first issue where I felt the dialog was a little stiff, but this was not the case for most of the book. And by the second and third issues, I felt the dialog flowed much better. Monsters can be allow for all sorts of creative avenues, and here Esquivel has focused on the idea that the monsters take on the appearance of what the person seeing them fears most.
I like Ramon Villalobos’ art. It has a feel similar to Frank Quitely. It establishes a certain reality and roughness within the fantasy worlds being established. Tamra Bonvillain’s color schemes really help complete the feel of the book. Her palette for the daytime hours is dry and warm…buy when set at night the colors cool.
The book has taken heat from a certain segment of fans who seem rather outside the target audience. The book became a target for having political overtones. And certainly, the book is full of both social and political hot buttons. There topics related to race and citizenship. Though the idea that racism is to political for comic books seems remarkably silly. Border Town is part of the newly revived Vertigo line from DC. Vertigo books have always been full of social and political commentary. From Swamp Thing to Constantine to American Virgin and so on…social and political and religious commentary. Sometimes through sincere drama and others through biting satire. So, is Border Town from a very specific perspective. And that is okay. Expecting Vertigo titles to be free of such things when they never were before is absolutely ridiculous.
Border Town is an entertaining read so far, with a distinct perspective and an intriguing premise.