The Twilight Children unites three of the biggest names in the comic book world for a mysterious modern fable. The collected edition is now available.
At the outset of The Twilight Children, a small, working class, seaside village deals with an unusual phenomenon: unexplained globes of shimmering energy keep popping up around town. The globes draw both scientists and government agents to the town, while shaking up the lives of the locals. Three children are blinded by a globe. At the same time, Ela, a mysterious young woman apparently connected to the phenomenon, suddenly appears in town and further stirs up the locals. Ela precipitates a final confrontation with the power behind the globes, leaving the town very changed.
The biggest selling point of The Twilight Children is the collaboration of writer Gabriel Hernandez (Love and Rockets), artist Darwyn Cooke (DC: The New Frontier)and colorist Dave Stewart (Sandman). The trio has been involved in some of the most celebrated comics of the past couple decades, helping to push the medium in new directions.
Hernandez never quite explains the nature of the globes. That ambiguity turns out not to be a problem. The Twilight Children is more interested in how the events affect the lives of its central characters. The varying reactions to the odd phenomenon and how it transforms the characters is more important than providing a detailed exposition of its origins. Hernandez has a gift for depicting the lives of regular people in a way that’s dramatically compelling without being overly melodramatic, and then contrasting that relative normalcy against something fantastic. The writing is often subtle and Hernandez is more interested in mood and character beats than plot machinations. Even if he skips a detailed explanation, Hernandez nails his goal of showing how the extraordinary can transform lives.
Cooke wouldn’t necessarily be the first artist one might pair with Hernandez. His highly stylized, cartoon-influenced approach wouldn’t seem simpatico with the writer’s grittier milieu. And yet that contrast is a strong part of the appeal of The Twilight Children. Cooke’s quirky, wide-eyed style crafts just the right atmosphere for the plot’s fabulistic ambiguity. He captures the town’s working class vibe in his own fashion, giving it a timeless, storybook feel. Cooke’s imagination really helps to sell the more fantastic moments, keeping them grounded in the story while still allowing them to stretch out and pop. Stewart is an ideal collaborator for Cooke. His color choices are spot on, running a gamut from dark, muted scenes to vistas of exploding light. He comes up with the right tones for each sequence and brings out the fantasy power of Cooke’s compositions. It’s a beautiful book to look at.
The Twilight Children is labeled “Mature Readers,” but it’s not especially graphic. Fans willing to accept the narrative ambiguity will truly enjoy the mood the creators spin.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on May 13, 2016.