It’s not every day that I get to dibs a review of a comic before Chris gets a chance to, so when I found out that Twilight Children #1 was releasing this week, I leapt at the opportunity. Written and co-created by Gilbert Hernandez and drawn/co-created by Darwyn Cooke – with colors by Dave Stewart – Twilight Children is a must read for any savvy comic book reader.
The story takes place in a small Latin American community on the shores of the ocean. We are introduced to this little hamlet and right away we get the feeling of a tightly-knit community. Not only does everyone know everyone else, but there’s enough rumor and scandal throughout the town to keep a CW show on the air for at least four seasons (looking at you Gossip Girl).
Readers meet several characters right away. There’s Anton, a small-time fisherman and dedicated bachelor. There’s Tito, the wife of the town tailor who is carrying out a scandalous tryst with Anton right under the nose of her husband – who must be blissfully ignorant of how Tito and Anton react around one another. There’s Bundo, the town drunk and local fool – who blames himself for the loss of his wife and children during a horrific fire (a fire that we never see but is described). And three little rascally kids, siblings named Milo, Grover, and Jael, who do what all kids do – explore, cause mischief, and generally get themselves into trouble.
It is these three children who drive most of the story in Twilight Children. One day at the beach they find a cave in the rocky shore. Just as they’re about to venture within, Bundo catches them and shoos them away, only to turn around and see a mysterious glowing orb just off the shore. The town leaders arrive and decide to call in a scientist from the university – apparently this isn’t the first time it’s happened. But before the brainiac can arrive, the orb disappears in the night and Bundo (who appointed himself guard over the orb) flees in fear of the townsfolk’s jeers and criticisms.
The following day, the three little rascals venture into the forbidden cave and what they find within completely alters them – and not in a good way. There’s more mystery and danger surrounding this orb than the townsfolk expected and if there’s any hope of helping Milo, Grover, and Jael…they need to find out what kind of magic this orb has and how they can fix what’s been broken.
Hernandez has accomplished several things in this first issue. Most notably he has created an entirely believable little world – one we can readily delve into without having to suspend disbelief too much. Think of your work environment or a small neighborhood and then think of all the gossip and back talking you hear. That’s this place. And the characters, so easily identifiable. You probably know someone like Anton or Tito or Bundo or the three children. And then there’s the supernatural aspects of the story, centered around this orb and how it interacts with the environment. Nothing short of masterful.
If you’ve listened to the show, you know how much respect we all have for Darwyn Cooke’s work. He can do no wrong and Twilight Children is no different. Everything is its own within this world. The characters are varied and unique, the town is alive with activity and the excitement that comes through the panels is nothing short of perfection. The orb itself is reminiscent of Cooke’s work on Justice League New Frontier (I’m thinking of The Centre) and I swear Cooke only gets better and better with age. The colors help drastically as well. Stewart knows how to manipulate mood as any good colorist can. The lighting of late night encounters between Anton and Tito or sad little Bundo drunk on the beach. Each scene is presented with a unique color pallete that helps the reader become more and more immersed in the story.
Twilight Children is a four-part mini-series coming out of Vertigo, a story about love and loss, gossip and scandal, and most importantly the dangers of childhood curiosity. I’m probably wrong on some of that, but I can be sure about one thing – I’m reading the whole damn series.
I swear I didn’t write this at work 😐