Red Border #3 Review

by Nick Devonald on July 14, 2020

Writer: Jason Starr
Artist: Will Conrad
Colours: Ivan Nunes
Letters: Sal Cipriano

The first two issues of Red Border have struggled to decide what story it’s telling, or even what genre. The first issue had our heroes fleeing over the Mexican border on the run from the Cartel, which ended in an epic showdown and rescue. The second issue had them inside their saviours’ house, where an sense of unease gradually grew as the issue progressed. The sudden switch in story and pacing changed it from a violent thriller into more classic horror territory. The ending of the issue and the discovery of a room filled with stuffed heads turned the horror up a notch, but didn’t feel particularly shocking or revelatory. Then there were the segments featuring the Cartel boss, which felt disconnected from events within the house and not particularly relevant.

This third issue continues the horror theme from the second issue, but even after this horrific discovery the tension never rises too high, even Eduardo & Karina aren’t feeling too scared as they manage to find the time to have a domestic in the middle of planning how to escape their new fate of becoming a Mexican taxidermy project. If our heroes aren’t terrified for their lives why should the reader care?

And therein lies another of Red Borders fatal flaws. The protagonists aren’t particularly likeable or even memorable, and it makes it hard for the reader to care for them. And if the reader doesn’t care what happens to them why should we continue this series? Then there’s the Cartel aspect of this story. The Cartel boss is gradually getting closer to finding out their location, but it feels like a separate story from the main one. With one issue left of the story a showdown between these two competing sides seems inevitable, with both sides wanting Eduardo & Karina for different reasons. But at this stage in the series it’s difficult to muster any excitement for the concluding issue. Typically by the penultimate issue the stakes should be incredibly high and the reader desperate to find out our protagonists fate, but that isn’t the case here.

Jason Starr also includes a betrayal in this issue, unfortunately it doesn’t manage to be the shocking twist it’s intended to be, rather there is an inevitability to it which the reader has most likely been expecting since the first issue. Starr does manage to raise the stakes at times, but by not setting a clear story and theme from the first issue, and having protagonists who the reader doesn’t overly care for, he misses the mark here. With only one issue left in the series it looks too late to turn this around.

The art from Will Conrad is the issue, and series, one saving grace. It’s stunning, whether it’s the sun setting, the Mexican border, our terrified heroes’ faces, it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s a shame that good art doesn’t elevate the poor story. The violence, when it arrives, is brutal and swift, and expertly captured by Conrad. Ivan Nunes does an excellent job with the colours, the rising sun near the start of the issue is beautiful, and he partners excellently with Conrad’s art.

Despite an incredible art pairing of Will Conrad and Ivan Nunes the poor story makes this comic difficult to recommend. The only one of AWA’s offerings which hasn’t been fantastic, perhaps the high bar set by the other series only highlights this one’s weaknesses. The indecision with the story being told and genre of the tale, coupled with a leading couple that the reader doesn’t root for, leaves this comic a little disappointing. With a little bit of work this could have been a good comic, unfortunately it falls a little short. With only one issue left it looks unlikely to be turned around.

Our Score:


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