A sleepy seaside town gets its world turned upside down…

THE TWILIGHT CHILDREN #1 by Gilbert Hernandez, Darwyn Cooke, Dave Stewart

Things aren’t all they seem in this peaceful, breezy locale. Beyond the interpersonal drama, mysterious orbs periodically appear on the shore, only to disappear just as quickly. This time, however, one doesn’t go so quietly…

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First, let me say that I love Darwyn Cooke. DC’S NEW FRONTIER is one of my favorite anythings of the last ever, and Cooke’s take on THE SPIRIT is just wonderful. Second, while I know nothing about Gilbert Hernandez (which I now know is shameful), a cursory search demonstrates that the guy is as prolific as he is decorated.

All this to say that THE TWILIGHT CHILDREN #1 comes hotly anticipated, and boy does it deliver.

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Cooke’s art is as lovely as ever, with designs and an energy that evoke the best of Max Flesicher and Bruce Timm, imbuing everything with a youthful spirit of a bygone era, while handily bearing the title’s themes and gravity with grace and aplomb. That’s the catch of this, though, isn’t it? That’s the catch of all of Cooke’s work, in my opinion: luring you in with promises of fun and excitement, then holding onto you as everything turns on its head. The style only serves to highlight the drama of the proceedings, making for a wholly satisfying experience.

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From what I understand, Hernandez consistently traffics in earnest human drama with a touch of the magic and the wonderful–and I mean that literally: full of wonder. That’s on full display here, and Cooke’s art (along with the colors of long-time Cooke collaborator and master in his own right, Dave Stewart) honor Hernandez’ style perfectly. You feel the soft breezes, smell the cooking, hear the waves and birds… and that’s just on the first page. Each panel is full of color and life, with the mood and tone as clear and bright as the mysterious orb on the beach.

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So much happens within this first issue, but all of it is crafted with such grace and care and ingenuity that I found myself eagerly consuming it all, desperate for more, as opposed to being overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed, but with how much I enjoyed all of it. This entire team is too experienced to do plot first and character’s later, and it expects the same of its audience. Everything unfolds simultaneously–we meet our characters, we’re introduced to their circumstances, to the dynamics of the town, to the town’s history with the mysterious glowing orb, to characters not only new to the reader but new to the town, and all of these things have their own dramatic plots unfolding before we even get to the main mysterious reveal of the book!

It’s not enough that the characters have clear points of view and dynamics, that the town clearly has its own sense of drama–all of this has to be compounded with mystery upon mystery. It brings to mind HBO’s THE LEFTOVERS–specifically the second season premiere: what seems like a peaceful, perfectly lovely town has its secrets (as all towns do), but these are a bit more… otherworldly than others. That would be compelling in its own right, but before we get a chance to really sink our teeth into the drama of this island, THE TWILIGHT CHILDREN #1 upsets that status quo and keeps things moving until the last page, when you’re suddenly desperate for more.

This may be the first issue of this story, but this is so clearly and masterfully not its team’s first issue. I could go on and on and on about this book, and maybe I will at some point, but for now, you need to stop reading and get your hands on THE TWILIGHT CHILDREN #1.

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