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REVIEW: ‘Barrier #1′ is border politics, illegal immigration and something totally unexpected



Story by: Brian K. Vaughan
Art by: Marcos Martin
Colors by: Muntsa Vicente
Letters by: Rob Bowman
4/ 5

User Rating
1 total rating



Stunning art; engaging story


Dual language could turn off to some readers

To sum it all up..

Barrier #1 is a tale that mixes violence, border politics, illegal immigration, and something totally unexpected.

Posted December 23, 2015 by


With the success of Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente‘s digital collaboration The Private Eye it’s no surprise for the same creative team to bring out a new comic on the same format. As The Private Eye comes out in print from Image Comics, the first over-sized issue (54 pages) of BARRIER comes in the same DRM-free pay-what-you-want digital format on Panel Syndicate.

[CHECK IT OUT… GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW – The Private Eye: Cloudburst Edition HC]

Barrier #1 is told from the perspectives of the two protagonists. The story starts out in Pharr, Texas with ranch owner Liddy finding a severed head of a horse as a sign of a threat, just like in film, The Godfather. At that point the narrative switches to the other protagonist, Oscar, an illegal immigrant from Honduras trying to find his way to the USA for a chance at a better life.

Usually when scenes change to a non-English speaking setting, the dialogue is automatically translated for the readers. However, Vaughan decides to keep it in Spanish, a direction I find very bold and genuine. At the same time it is also fitting seeing as the title is barrier, a word whose meaning could be applied to different aspects of the story.

Vaughan continues to write compelling characters with Liddy and Oscar. The two protagonists are miles apart, and wholly different in terms of culture. Yet their characters resonate through shared struggles that both of them are determined to overcome.


The power of this book, however, lies in Martin and Vicente’s stunning visuals. And seeing Martin’s name listed first in the credits is appropriate considering how the book is heavily reliant on the art. Although half of the dialogue in this book is in Spanish, Martin’s storytelling breaks through the language barrier that you understand the gist of what’s going on (using Google Translate further helps too). The art team fully utilizes the landscape format to its full potential as can be seen in the final pages. As Liddy and Oscar’s paths slowly intertwine, Martin’s smart use of facial expressions and poignant scenery fully compensates for the lack of word bubbles.

Barrier #1 is a tale that mixes violence, border politics, illegal immigration, and something totally unexpected. Aside from being beautifully made, the 54-page debut issue comes with a bargain price (pay-what-you-want). Although a few dollars would go a long way for the creators. This comic is hard to pass up.

Drew Bagay

Drew is a lover of comic books, movies, and all things pop culture. He enjoys crime/thriller/noir fiction, playing the guitar, and taking long walks. He also doesn't like talking in third person.


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