Jamil Scalese: This comic is phenomenal. The art is great, the story is great, the whole thing is great. You should buy the first issue of The Twilight Children, person reading this. It will likely entertain you.
Oh, you were looking a deeper analysis? I guess we can do that.
When a trio of comics masters like Gilbert Hernandez, Darwyn Cook and Dave Stewart get together you can bank on the product being good. For me, that was true to the point that I only discovered the existence of this miniseries in the last few weeks and plucked it off the shelf without reading a solicit or even glancing at the interiors.
In a funny way those interiors did not surprise me at all; this was exactly at the level I thought it’d be. Mysterious, cute, humane, spooky, there are so many descriptors I could apply to this story of giant light orbs and a denizens of a unsuspecting beachside village. It’s got a vibe close to Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s Trees but with firecracker character interaction of David Lapham’s Stray Bullets.
I loved the dialogue, it was the element that made this soar. Hernandez allowed himself to play coy with the plotline by showing us the rawness of the characters, none of which are particularly likeable, but all unquestionably protagonists.
Julia Walchuk: As Jamil said, none of these characters are very likeable, but I think that may be my favorite part. Because they all have flaws, they come across as believable and real. They aren’t idealized as being perfect citizens, but they also have made some pretty serious mistakes and aren’t condemned as completely irredeemable because of them. They are people, living their lives and doing their best.
Another thing I like a lot about this series was how seamlessly it moved into embracing supernatural elements. It starts out focusing on the interactions between a few of the people in the town and when glowing orbs begin showing up, the shift into the bigger mystery just seems to fit. I’ve read other titles lately where the inclusion of the supernatural throws me for a bit of a loop and interrupts the story that was already being established, but I did not feel that at all with The Twilight Children.
The art style of this book is super intriguing as this story is dealing with serious issues, but it looks like an all ages story. While this seems like a combination that wouldn’t work incredibly well, it somehow does. A lot. The bright, bold art interacts with the story and emphasizes the idea that a lot of what is happening is seen through the eyes of the kids in town. My one worry with this is just making sure to keep it out of the hands of the littler kids at the comic store.
Overall, I was really impressed with The Twilight Children. It was a first issue that has me really excited for things to come!! It established the world and the conflict cleanly and with intrigue.
Jason Sacks: Yeah, Jamil and Julia, this comic is an intriguing first issue, with the mix of Hernandez and Cooke providing a spark of difference between this series and many of Hernandez’s other journeys into mysterious worlds. Gilbert’s delivered a few graphic novels over the last few years that play with similar themes to the ones we find in this issue, with common tropes around small town secrets, flawed lead characters and especially the often mysterious way that science reveals itself to people who don’t understand it. He’s tremendously adept at delivering lead characters who are broken in ways that we can understand (alcoholism, cheating on your spouse), then putting them at the center of mysteries that unfold in unpredictable ways.
Over the last few years, Gilbert’s art has followed Alex Toth’s principle of always making it simpler, so it seems a natural for him to team with Darwyn Cooke. Cooke has always used a minimum of lines to convey character and setting, and the combination of Hernandez and Cooke here provides a smooth sheen for the project, a clean-lined and sympathetic take on Hernandez’s tale. There are lovely character details and cute cartooning moments that emphasize the fact that Cooke and Hernandez are a team on this project.
There’s a whole lot of mystery in the story here: where do these glowing balls come from? Who is the mysterious naked blonde woman whose presence bookends this comic? Will the truth come out about Anton and Tito? Gilbert Hernandez’s comics always bring readers on an unexpected ride, and I’m anxious to see where this winds up.