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