• Baraka

Bordertown #1 Rumination/Review


Writer: Eric M Esquivel Artist: Ramon Villalobos

Colors Tamra Bonvillain

Publisher: DC/Vertigo

If it wasn't obvious from the title, Bordertown takes place at the Mexican border in Devils Fork, Arizona. Racial tensions are pretty high in the area. The comic opens with a group of racist rednecks prepping to go hunt Mexicans in an attempt to "Make America Great Again". While this is happening a family of Mexicans are attempting to cross the border into the US. Right before a potential lynching situation is about to take place, the family and the rednecks hunting them are all killed by monsters.

The comic transitions to Frank and his family arriving to the city. Frank is the new kid in school and gets interest from everyone in the cast, including Quinteh, a large Mexican kid that wears a Lucha mask throughout the entire issue and Blake. Frank becomes fast friends with both which catches the attention of Aimi & Julietta.

During a conversation in class Frank is asked to prove that he's not a racist since he's friends with Blake. It turns out Blake is a racist skinhead and bully. Frank says he's not a racist and also reveals to the girls that he's half Mexican.

Word travels fast about Frank's ethnicity and after class Blake finds Frank punches him in the face. He call Frank a liar presumably about not being white and tells him to meet him after class. They both meet and square up to fight with Frank beating Blakes ass.

While the fight is taking place monsters gather at the outskirts of town in the form of the everyones greatest fears.

After the fight, Blake grabs a gun from one of his friends and pulls it on Frank but before he can pull the trigger a monster arrives in the form of a cop and bites Blake. The monster moves in on Frank but is rushed by Quinteh. The monster pulls Quinteh's Lucha mask down blinding him. It turns back to eat Frank but is shot by Julietta. The kids run off when they hear police sirens moving in. Julietta reveals that she is an undocumented immigrant and if she gets arrested it could put her family at risk for deportation.

The comic ends with an epilogue revealing that the border houses a portal to another dimension and that the monster that attacked Frank was the Chupacabra. It has been sent to Devil's Fork by and unnamed entity for presumably nefarious purposes

Analysis

Bordertown isn't a bad comic. The premise that undocumented immigrants may not be necessarily crossing the border into the United States for a better opportunity but to escape from monsters is actually pretty clever. All of the supporting characters are interesting.

I'm not really a fan of Frank, the lead character though. My issue with Frank is that he seems to be a kid out of time. He doesn't talk like a real person and seems to be a kid from a 90's sitcom rather than a kid from 2018.

The elephant in the room are the racial aspects of the comic. It's no secret that I'm a conservative. I'm not a Trump supporter though. I don't support building a wall or the idea that kids should be held in detention camps away from their parents. I do believe that illegal immigration is an issue and is much more complicated that the media will have us believe. My biggest gripe with this comic is it does a real disservice to conservatives and reduces the immigration argument to a caricature.

Another noticeable issue within the book is that it's blatantly racist. Every white person in Bordertown is presented as the worse type of white redneck stereotype. Even Frank is assumed to be racist until its revealed that he's half Mexican which coincidentally give him a pass.

If any other ethnic group was depicted in this manner the book wouldn't have made it to print but, since it's perfectly fine to hate whites no one cares and any arguments to the racism portrayed will probably be confined to the echo chambers of twitter and other social media forums.

I'm not making excuses for racists. I'm perfectly aware that racism does exist but in this instance, the racism within the comic seems to be over the top and unnecessary.

Despite the flaws, I'm interested in seeing where the story goes. The art is bright and detailed and the colorist, Tamra Bonvillain gets kudos for the diverse color palette, especially with the skin tones of the characters. I am a person of color and this is something I really appreciate. This is a very eye-catching comic and deserves praise on that front.

Ultimately because of the racial aspects of the comic I can't recommend Bordertown. In this instance. I will say that your enjoyment of the issue and the series will probably depend on your political leanings and what level of racism is acceptable to you.

Rating: C

#DCComics #Vertigo #EricMEsquivel #RamonVillalobos #TamraBonvillain #Bordertown #DCUniverse

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