‘Barrier #1-2:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin ,along with Muntsa Vicente, flip the form of the comic book format on its side. Literally. To give us a more cinematic perspective of the story as it unfolds, they’ve altered the typical “portrait” format by rotating the view 45 degrees clockwise to a “landscape” format, creating a 70mm texture which is fitting for this mixture of genres. The first time I saw this done in a comic was an issue of Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man back in the '90s. I always thought it was cool, but it didn’t serve a purpose or wasn’t used to pronounce the story in any meaningful way. Here, it does.

Vaughan and Martin give the two main characters of the book old west-style introductions, their names displayed across the page as they dramatically step forward. It’s pretty badass. You can hear the Ennio Morricone soundtrack whistle and thrum in the back of your mind.

Liddy lives by herself on a ranch at the Texas border, where a helping hand discovers a decapitated horse head that’s had its eyes poked out. She assumes it’s a warning from a drug cartel that wants to use her land to bring drugs into the States. Meanwhile, in Honduras, Oscar makes his grand entrance, standing up for a “she-male,” as one crass character calls her. He has bloodied money, a hero’s heart, and a desperate need to get to the States - desperate enough to risk his own life to get there. The story juxtaposes Liddy’s increasing anxiousness as she’s left with fewer options to solve her potential problem and Oscar’s treacherous journey to the States until inevitably…a dramatic turn of events occurs - one a lot of people may not expect, but one that I was clued into early on when I misread (or properly read?) a line of dialogue. Because I thought I misread it, I disregarded my thought. Looking back on it, no doubt the line of dialogue was intentional. I have read the second issue, but I won’t talk specifically about it, nor will I give my comparison to a film I loved when I was a kid, so as not to give up any plot points. If you’re extra curious and don’t want to wait for this weekly publication schedule, you can check out the comic in digital form where it’s already been published at PanelSyndicate.com.

What I will say is this is a gorgeously rendered and written book. The landscape-style visuals are taken full advantage of, especially in a montage of pages that show Liddy and Oscar’s storylines drawing closer together. The colors pop off the page and bring the beauty of the Texas plains to life. The themes of immigration are now incredibly potent, even though this was written before Trump came into office. Liddy’s views of the world are not necessarily perfect, but she’s also not a monster. Vaughan puts each character into specific situations to nicely define who they are. There’s a lot going on in the first issue, and even more in the second!

One thing I enjoyed is the fact that half of the comic is in Spanish – no translation given. And while it’s clear what’s happening from panel to panel, I typed every line of dialogue into Google translate, so I could more closely follow along, and so far I’m 100% on board.

These issues will never be collected, so it seems, and these prints are a special edition with some really nice cardstock, so collectors, keep your eyes peeled…these will probably sell fast.


Creative Team: Brian K. Vaughan (story), Marcos Martin along with Muntsa Vicente (art,covers)
Publisher: Image Comics
Click here to purchase.



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