First looks at The Twi­light Chil­dren, Un­fol­low, Star Wars: Shat­tered Em­pire and loads more be­sides.

Comic Heroes - - Contents - Will Salmon Will Salmon

“Like Sal­man Rushdie writ­ing The Pris­oner”

Re­viewed: Is­sue 1

Writer: Gil­bert Her­nan­dez

Artist: Dar­wyn Cooke

Pub­lisher: DC Ver­tigo

For­mat: 4-part se­ries There’s a lot rid­ing on the new slate of Ver­tigo ti­tles launch­ing this au­tumn. But from these two new de­buts, it’s all look­ing very promis­ing...

First of all, take a look at the cre­ative team be­hind The Twi­light Chil­dren – it’s a onetwo punch of comics love­li­ness. Writ­ing the se­ries is Love And Rock­ets co-cre­ator Gil­bert Her­nan­dez. His work has long been known for bring­ing magic re­al­ist odd­ness to small-town Mex­ico – most no­tably in the Palo­mar sto­ries. And so it proves here. The sea­side vil­lage at the heart of the story is the sort of re­mote idyll you dream about vis­it­ing. The peo­ple who live here aren’t overly ide­alised, though. The first thing we learn about Tito and An­ton, the ap­par­ent pro­tag­o­nists of the se­ries, is that they are hav­ing an il­licit af­fair. We don’t know the back­story, but nei­ther is judg­men­tally por­trayed as a bad per­son. The lo­cal drunk is also sym­pa­thet­i­cally por­trayed. He’s a laugh­able fig­ure to the lo­cal kids, but his story is gen­uinely mov­ing and tragic.

The ev­ery­day ex­tra­or­di­nary

Over in the art cor­ner, we have the mighty Dar­wyn Cooke, bring­ing his A-List skills to a less flashy, but no less en­thralling, story than his su­per­hero work. The first is­sue of The Twi­light Chil­dren is al­most all faces and places, with not a fight in sight. But that’s won­der­ful. Very few artists around can match Cooke at cap­tur­ing hu­man forms and ex­pres­sion so sim­ply and eco­nom­i­cally. In a sin­gle panel, for in­stance, we know ev­ery­thing about An­ton’s sense of shame. It’s a re­ally hand­some look­ing comic, with ex­cel­lent colour work.

En­thralling de­but

A lot of plot ground is cov­ered quickly – nec­es­sary, as there’s just a scant four is­sues. All seems nor­mal in the sleepy fish­ing vil­lage where the story is set, but that’s dis­rupted by the omi­nous ar­rival of a glow­ing white orb. Rather than be­ing sur­prised, how­ever, it turns out that the lo­cals are used to these ob­jects ap­pear­ing and dis­ap­pear­ing seem­ingly at ran­dom. The mys­tery deep­ens when Tito is vis­ited by one of the orbs in the night – and then a trio of chil­dren from the vil­lage get them­selves em­broiled in events.

The ef­fect is akin to An­gela Carter or Sal­man Rushdie writ­ing an episode of The Pris­oner. The orb that ap­pears on the beach im­me­di­ately re­calls that show’s fa­mous Rover – and it’s just as much of a sur­real vis­ual jolt.

Where the book goes from here, we’ve no idea. But this is an ex­cit­ing, en­gag­ing and emo­tional de­but is­sue that makes you both ea­ger for part two, and sad that it will be over so soon. The Twi­light Chil­dren is sim­ply thrilling.

om­ni­scient pres­ence. Cru­cially, Wil­liams – a self-con­fessed so­cial me­dia ad­dict – doesn’t ham­mer home a pa­tro­n­is­ing mes­sage. Our on­line world is threaded through the story, ut­terly in­te­gral to it, but it’s nei­ther blithely praised nor glibly con­demned.

Dowling’s art is crisp and de­tailed through­out, his panel com­po­si­tion giv­ing this the feel of a high-end TV show. In­deed there’s not a lit­tle of Lost in the way that the book’s global mys­tery be­gins to un­fold.

Not friends, ex­actly

While Ver­tigo’s re­mit has al­ways been to ex­plore the stranger side of comics, Un­fol­low feels like a step into the main­stream. That’s not a crit­i­cism – if the line is to suc­ceed, it needs to bal­ance its stranger out­put with ac­ces­si­ble projects like this. Smart and ex­cit­ing, if less unique than The Twi­light Chil­dren, it’s the sort of in­stantly ad­dic­tive book that could fill gap left by the likes of Preacher. That’s a hit on the ‘Like’ but­ton, then.

Cooke’s clean art wins you over at a stroke.

You know what comes next... But af­ter that?

Don’t ex­pect any­thing cold and techie here...

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