REVIEW: ‘Border Town,’ Issue #2

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Border Town #2

I’ve been singing the praises of Border Town for over a month now and Border Town #2 keeps the hype going. This issue showcases more about our protagonists but also serves a teaser for the types of monsters and folktales we’ll see in the future. With a story by Eric M. Esquivel, art by Ramon Villalobos, and colors by Tamra Bonvillain, Border Town is progressing in a way that makes me wish I got a new issue every week.

 

Border Town #2 starts out by deep diving into Quinteh, the giant of a high school student in a luchador mask, as a character and explaining why he wears his mask. We learn that he is Kiowa, and after speaking with Esquivel and Villalobos in a podcast interview they’ve confirmed that he is half Kiowa and half Mexican, or as Julietta would say, he’s 100% native and 100% Mexican. We get a glimpse at his childhood, his mask, and ultimately some Kiowa lore told to us by his mother. Esquivel writes the struggle of Quinteh and the love his mother has for him extremely well and it is the standout of the issue when it comes to dialogue.

As great as the writing is in this issue, Villalobo’s art and Bonvillain’s colors come off of the page. Where issue #1 introduced you to Frank’s world in Devil’s Fork, Arizona, this is issue builds out the world of Mictlan. If you’re not caught up on your Aztec mythology, Mictlan is the Aztec underworld which holds nine distinct levels. The Mictlan of Border Town is the realm that is home to all the things your abuela warned you about and more.  We’re in Mictlan for numerous pages and it’s here where Villalobo’s flexes his creative muscle.

Showcasing truly disturbing and beautiful visuals when we are presented with a two-page spread of the creatures. We see the common myths like La Llorona and El Cucuy, who have been reimagined and brought to life in unique ways that envoke the fireside stories but remain distant enough to live in this new world of Mictlan. We’re also shown some lesser known mythical creatures, like the pichilingis or La Lechuza, especially for those in the states or who are not Mexican/Mexican American.

Seeing characters from stories I spent my entire life hearing about was a moment that worried me. As much I was glad to see folktales from my culture in print, seeing something that looks different than how you envisioned it your whole life can be shocking, like when your favorite book is adapted to a movie. However, when seeing Villalobo’s creations I was excited and somehow more scared of these monsters from my childhood.

His design of La Llorona, a character that has been shown throughout the South West so much that even in non-Mexican areas there are stories of women in white, is breathtaking. A solid white silhouette with long nails and black veins running from her eyes like tears, she’s as gorgeous as she is haunting. The art of the duendes is something extremely unsettling. And ultimately the imagining of the ruler of Mictlan is what makes me want this series to be a television show directed by Guillermo del Toro.

As the story continues we learn that the monsters are not all that they seem and the teens who had decided to go their separate ways all think the same as more and more chupacabras burst through the crack in the wall. Each character has their own personalities, highlighted by showing them in their bedrooms. We end the issue with the kids in danger, with a new friend, and looking for answers. I can’t wait to dive into issue #3 next month and learn more about the creatures in Mictlan but also more about our heroes.

Border Town #2
5

TL;DR

As the story continues we learn that the monsters are not all that they seem and the teens who had decided to go their separate ways all think the same as more and more chupacabras burst through the crack in the wall. Each character has their own personalities, highlighted by showing them in their bedrooms. We end the issue with the kids in danger, with a new friend, and looking for answers. I can’t wait to dive into issue #3 next month and learn more about the creatures in Mictlan but also more about our heroes.