When DC announced the Vertigo imprint would be returning, they said it would do the vaunted name justice. Titles would be ground breaking, hold a mirror up to society, and not tell conventional comic book stories. The first series in the relaunched line, Border Town, has exceeded all expectations. Rooted deeply in Mexican folklore, the book from writer Eric M. Esquivel and artist Ramon Villalobos has been an over the top horror comic that tackles immigration and racism.
The previous issue of Border Town was less character driven than any other issue in the series. Other issues have seen the teenagers in the comic react and try to deal with the town of Devil’s Fork. Issue three still had this, but the hate was even more overt. This resulted in a much more uncomfortable issue that was a good change of pace. (Readers are not allowed to get to comfortable and are kept on edge.)
Border Town #4 once again sees the book going back to a more character focused structure. One of the book’s strengths throughout the entire run is how its cast of high school students have been written. Esquivel has shown he has a knack for writing dialogue that is realistic, natural, and cringey in a good way.
The fourth issue of Border Town sees Esquivel take a more sensitive look at Julietta. The issue opens with a flashback that gives readers a look into the young girl’s past. This not only makes Julietta more likable but also explains her personality. She is not just a high school kid going through an anti-authority phase. She has suffered real heartbreak.
Esquivel ties this in to the book’s climax. The final pages of the issue are not surprising as they have been teased since the book’s premiere. It has just been a matter of how the story would get to this moment. Two distinctly different stories of crossing a border were the perfect way to bookend the issue.
The final pages are also some of the finest work from Villalobos during the run. The creature design from Villalobos has been amazing throughout the entire series. The monsters have been terrifying and Villalobos does a great job of mixing in originality with a Mexican folklore influence. Seeing what monsters he is going to come up with next is one of the book’s many highlights.
Villalobos’s fantastic art is not just limited to creature design, however. Border Town #4 has some great work with the less supernatural characters. The last issue had the standout scene of the series. This was thanks in no small part to the art. In issue four, there are some detail panels of Arnie Hernandez that look great. The sheriff of Devil’s Fork may not be a being from another dimension, but he is still a monster and Villalobos draws him perfectly.
Border Town continues to impress with its horrific and action packed story about growing up, falling in love, and battling monsters from another dimension. The book tackles real life demons that are even scarier than otherworldly ones.
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