The Twilight Children collects a four comic run that appeared between October 2015 and January 2016, written by Gilbert Hernandez (probably better known to Bookmunch readers as one third of the creative force behind Love & Rockets, specifically the Palomar and Heartbreak Soup stories) and drawn by Darwyn Cooke (who has busied himself over the course of the last thirty years working on a whole host of predominantly DC titles and characters ranging from Catwoman to Batman and The Spirit); Dave Stewart is the colorist and he gains a mention on the cover and here in the review for the simple fact that colour in The Twilight Children is simple and beautiful. Obviously it’s a group effort and everything but potential readers should know up front: this is one hell of a good looking book.
From page 1, each frame feels balanced and well judged. Take a look. We see a town from the air, from amongst the birds. We see a boat (we know this is a fishing community, that tells us a lot), men working together. We see a lot of fish (so, in a sense, there is plenty here, this may be the past). We see the fishermen again, and we see women; this is a community, working together. We see children running by, playing. Young men greeting older men. There is respect here. Harmony. Pretty soon, we get to glimpse beneath the surface (one of those fishermen has a thing going with the extremely beautiful proprietress of Tito’s boutique). So there are secrets here too. Later, the children on the beach meet a man called Bundo, dismissed by the town as an alcoholic and a fool who accidentally killed his wife and his children and has lived and suffered on ever since. So far, so what, you might think. I mean, it sounds nice. Enchanting right? But what’s –
Oh right. Yeah. A gigantic ball appears on the water. A gigantic ball that looks like a moon if the moon was the size of a spherical car. From here on in, The Twilight Children takes an altogether darker, more complex and more adult shift. First of all, the children themselves are struck blind. Then people in the town start disappearing. The ball starts appearing to townsfolk (like, in their bedrooms, when they are, you know, cheating on their spouse). A scientist (a sort of smooth scientist, imagine Jean-Paul Belmondo playing a scientist in a sort of Hispanic Stephen King story) appears and starts to rile the locals. Oh, and a beautiful deaf mute with hair that seems to shine and eyes so blue they bewitch the local men and render them half mute themselves. There is lightning. Storms. Hurricanes that are over in a flash. All kinds of mayhem in other words.
All of which may sound a little like Charles Burns’ most recent trilogy of books (X’ed out, The Hive & Sugar Skull), and there are certainly similarities – but The Twilight Children is also somewhat warmer, cosier and sweeter and it isn’t afraid of answering all questions and providing resolution at the close (which, you know, sometimes we like). It feels like what you would see if Fellini had ever directed an episode of The Twilight Zone. Which is our idea of a compliment.
Any Cop?: We don’t know if this is a standalone work (although we suspect it might be); we secretly hope it isn’t standalone because it was a real pleasure spending time here.