[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Eric M. Esquivel
Artists: Ramon Villalobos
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Deron Bennett
Devil’s Fork, Arizona. A town on the border. See what they did there? A new kid, Frank, moves to town and sort of makes friends. He makes enemies. He is a teenager, so you know, it is a normal day for him.
Outside, of town, in the desert, there are monsters. We are told that they are an ancient threat being let loose on the modern world. Giant, grey skinned, snake tongued monsters. Mexicans, Nazis, ICE agents, cops. The curse seems to be indiscriminate. What is the monster? You have to read to find out. There are spoilers and then there is being a jerk.
Esquivel has thrown down a gauntlet here. There is no doubt what he wants the reader to see. There are crazed, MAGA shouting maniacs on page one and a lecture on page five that goes like this:
“On one side of the border, you have a soiled, smart-mouthed teenager complaining about taking an air-conditioned drive in a Uhaul to his new home where he knows for a fact he will have free rent and board for next three years and on the other you got kids willing to walk a hundred miles in the blistering desert braving coyotes, scorpions and rattlesnakes to get to get to the same place.”
This world, is rough. There is swearing, there is violence and there are monsters. Like an any good monster story, the real villains, are the people.
The art team has a lot to do here. You might think making a town in the desert is easy. Sand, cactus, a bag of nothing. Nothing if further from the truth here. The world jumps off the page. The monsters come right at the reader. The blood flecks us as it comes our way.
Anything new takes a time to build a world. This world has a foundation but then in the final few pages comes the big reveal of the monsters. While it is pretty interesting, it feels rushed. I wanted more with the people. I was fine with the monsters just being out there. We have a mysterious old lady to tell us things later, we can wait. The book was just over 20 pages, let it simmer. We can wait. We can stew and think.
This feels like an homage to monster movies which works for me. There is social commentary. There is angst. There are monsters. Bring it on.