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"Border Town #3" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Vertigo Comics

Border Town 3 00

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 November 7th, 2018

Review:

The town of Devil’s Fork, Arizona, is under attack by Chupacabras that have broken through a dimensional barrier into our world. A group of misfit kids learn about this invasion from a weird old lady called La Curandera, but are they up to the task of defending their town and all the ignorant racists that live there? Or will they blow that off to be kids and try to survive in a world where they’re hated because of the color of their skin?

Ramon Villalobos’ artwork in Border Town is so friggin’ good. This issue opens with the aforementioned old lady explaining the history of the Chupacabra and it’s some crazy stuff. The King and Queen of Mictlan, the Land of the Dead, are like a Lovecraftian version of Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. They have more than one face that’s kind of merged on their head. It creates this horrifying visage as your mind tries to make sense of it. Teeth show up where they shouldn’t be and it makes for a rather unsettling image.

This is amplified by Tamra Bonvillain’s trippy colors for this scene. They make these deadly deities appear like something out of a fever dream. The bright yellows bring out the heat of the desert in Mexico City from hundreds of years ago.

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An info dump like this can be hit or miss, as it could come across as a history lesson. Fortunately, that’s not the case here, as the artwork pulls you in and the story is nothing short of riveting. It helps that this seamlessly flows into the story in the present day. Writer Eric M. Esquivel pulls us up through time to show just how far back these horrors go, giving us an idea of what these kids are up against.

Border Town walks a fine line between horror and comedy, although that humor is rather dark. It puts racism through this monstrous lens and gives some perspective on how these minority kids see the world. This is exemplified in a sequence where the cops arrive to find the Chupacabras. The monsters appear as what you fear most. These white cops are afraid of black kids in hoodies and Colin Kaepernick jerseys and act fast to shoot these unarmed assailants down.

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This is only part of what the kids are up against. The threat they’re not seeing just yet is in the white supremacist bully, Blake. He gets about two pages in Border Town #3, but they’re some of the most chilling sequences in the entire book. He’s changing and in a very frightening way. The creative team injects some body horror into the story with these scenes in a way that will really freak people out.

Emotions can run high throughout this issue and these are shown well by letterer Deron Bennett. There are times of great stress where the word balloons look like their tails were just jabbed into an electrical outlet. This underscores the tension in certain scenes and works very well.

Border Town is equal parts terrifying and relevant. Comics have long been a vehicle for exploring political issues and this one delves into racism in a way that really puts things in perspective. I realize I’m far from an expert with that, as I’m a white man, however there are several eye-opening scenes in this issue that show just how frightening the real world can be for people with a different skin color. It’s saying something when the monsters aren’t the scariest thing featured.

Grades:

Story: Fivestars Border Town 3 Cover
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Art: Fivestars
Overall: Fivestars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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