The first issue of Border Town was violent, funny, scary, and also made sure to tackle serious issues. The ending made it clear that the creatures seen during the story were nothing compared to what was going to come. It was also apparent that writer Eric M. Esquivel was not going to shy away from dealing with the race relations in this country.
The second issue manages to be even more action packed than its debut. Unsurprisingly, much of the first issue dealt with the introductions of the comic’s cast. Since none were needed this time around, issue #2 is able to get right into the action. The difference between Border Town and other action adventures is the story manages to move at its fast pace without filling every page with violent and bloody battles. However, once the reader puts the book down, they will need to catch their breath due to all the action they have just witnessed.
This is the beauty in Esquivel’s writing. Since they were first created, comics have been all about creating the illusion of action. Normally, this is in reference to the art, but in the case of Border Town, it ‘s the writing that leads the reader to believe they have witnessed a series of epic battles. A mixture of quick scenes and constant movement take the reader for a ride that is much slower than they realize.
Which is not to say that there is no action in Border Town. There’s an early scene that features many familiar names from Mexican folklore. Everything that happens in the book is also leading to a battle towards the end of the book. This is another area in which Esquivel’s writing talents come through. Instead of seeing the action, readers hear about what is happening throughout the town from news reports. This has the dual effect of using writing to create action, but of also not allowing readers to get desensitized by too much violence.
Artist Ramon Villalobos continues to do a magnificent job. It is becoming clear that Border Town is as much a character driven story as it is an action based one. This is where the art really stands out. Villalobos brings great detail to the people of Devil’s Forks. The story is filled with moments of fear, hate, anger, and humor, and Villalobos is able to get all these emotions across.
That being said, Border Town is also a book about an inter dimensional invasion. The story requires lots of monsters and Villalobos is able to oblige. The creatures created by Villalobos are terrifying (and in some cases, cute). Poor monster design can quickly ruin a good story but Villalobos makes sure this never happens.
Border Town is more than just a comic about teenagers battling monsters from another dimension. The Vertigo Comics books also deals with immigration and life on the border. This is a controversial topic that can easily turn readers away if not dealt with correctly. Esquivel does a great job of handling the subject deftly. This is a story about how different races get along, so there is only so much subtlety that can be used, but Esquivel makes sure to never hit readers over the head with his message. (That being said, there is a part that, while clever, is borderline overbearing.)
After two issues, Border Town has shown that it is worthy of the Vertigo Comics name. With each issue, Esquivel continues to prove that he is one of the best writers in comics. The art of Villalobos is a great complement to Esquivel’s writing and the story’s message never gets lost in the fun story.