Red Border #1 Review

by Nick Devonald on March 22, 2020

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

Red Border #1 is at a bit of a disadvantage. One of four releases this week from AWA, a new publisher that has had an impressive debut week with The Resistance, Archangel 8, Hotell and this, Red Border. The other three comics have all made fantastic impressions and set the bar really high, so much so that when Red Border doesn’t quite reach the incredible standard set by these others it ends up suffering in comparison.

Not that Red Border is a bad comic. It isn’t. It just doesn’t do anything to establish itself as something special or incredible like the other three has. And perhaps that’s unfair to it, but that’s the nature of the beast.

It follows a couple trying to cross the border from Mexico into America as they flee from the Juarez Cartel. The stakes are set quite high after a violent introduction to the story, then our couple have the challenge of getting out of Mexico and into safety. There are a number of problems with it. First off the main characters don’t make too much of an impression and it makes it hard to root for them. Secondly, the border crossing of the title feels less of a focus for the story than the title suggests. Thirdly, from reading the synopsis for this four part series (no spoilers) what we’ve seen in this first part hasn’t even established the main plot of the story yet. And we’re a quarter of the way through the story.

Of course that’s one of the challenges of a debut issue. It can be hard to keep all the plates spinning and sometimes the ball gets dropped. The next issue may come out firing with all cylinders and be excellent. But this debut issue feels like it takes it time introducing the characters and setting it up for the real storyline.

Will Conrad’s art is good, his Cartel members in particular feel more like real people than cardboard cut outs, flawed and unique in their own ways. The Mexican landscape is suitably bleak, the sunrise is beautiful and the border imposing. The violence is quick, brutal and frantic. The danger feels real and life threatening.

Ivan Nunes’ colours are also really good. He captures the time of day beautifully, whether it’s our heroes walking through a sunrise or under the night sky. The initial house scene feels warm and relaxed, which helps create a nice juxtaposition with the violence when it occurs.

The weakest of the four releases from AWA studios it suffers more for the comparison with the rest of that incredible line-up. Not a bad comic though, it’s taking its time to get going with main characters that the reader is, so far, indifferent to. It won’t be until the next issue drops that it’ll be clear whether this mini-series will be good or not. Good art and colours help to elevate it above being just average.

Our Score:


A Look Inside