Review – The Twilight Children TP (Vertigo Comics)

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Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Writer: Gilbert Hernandez
Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Release Date: 11th May, 2016

As “dream collaborations” go, the pairing of Gilbert Hernandez (LOVE AND ROCKETS) and Darwyn Cooke (DC: THE NEW FRONTIER) is a fairly mouth-watering prospect.  The Twilight Children is a four-part Vertigo Comics series which capitalizes on both creator’s strengths as they weave the strange tale of a remote Latin American seaside village which finds itself at the centre of a supernatural – and possibly extraterrestrial – mystery when a strange glowing white orb washes up on the shore.

Hernandez’s distinctive storytelling approach is on full display throughout, with dark humour and adult drama aplenty – a style which juxtaposes wonderfully with the soft, beautiful artwork of Cooke.  This is a story that revels in its own mystery, leaving the reader as bewildered as the inhabitants of the village for the most part as the events gradually unfold.

The pace doesn’t let up throughout as the weirdness just keeps on coming; a group of children investigate the strange orb which  erupts into a ball of light, blinding them all; a mysterious, seemingly mute white-haired woman is found wandering on the shore; a sunglasses-wearing scientist rolls into town to investigate the orb, followed shortly thereafter by a pair of Hawaiian shirt-wearing CIA agents. Yes, there are a lot of moving parts here, but Hernandez manages to keep everything flowing smoothly and coherently thanks to some well-defined lead characters and dialogue which is frequently packed with charm and humour.

As strong as Hernandez’s writing may be however, this – for me, anyway – is Cooke’s show from beginning to end as he continually displays his trademark flair for expressive characters and intriguing visual beats.  The colours are soft, almost beautiful at times, and the subtlety of the facial expressions throughout really help to carry the surreal, occasionally disjointed and fractured story.  This isn’t a conventional tale by any means, but there’s just something about it that reels you in from the very first page, forcing you to become invested in this quirky little village and its quirky little inhabitants.

Unfortunately, as gripping as the first three issues of the collection undoubtedly are, Hernandez and Cooke don’t quite manage to stick the landing, finishing the story with a fairly unsatisfying whimper rather than a triumphant flourish.  It’s difficult then for me to fully recommend this volume, as the sublime genius (yeah, I used the g-word) of the early chapters are somewhat undermined by the frankly lackluster conclusion.  That said, The Twilight Children is still definitely well worth a look, if only to revel in two creative masters working in perfect unison – for three glorious issues, at least.

Rating: 4/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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