Review: Refugees Book 1

cover_v2Refugees tells the true stories of people migrating from Latin America into the United States, and why anyone would take such a risky journey. Immigration affects everyone, and things aren’t as simple as “just go home.” There’s always a story behind them.

Self-published by Pablo Leon, Refugees was one of my “must gets” at this year’s Small Press Expo. When I grabbed my copy from him at the convention, Leon warned me that this wasn’t a “happy” story, and I should be prepared for the brutal content within. Leon made it clear this comic’s purpose wasn’t to entertain but to educate.

Within it’s pages it does that and then some painting a bleak and depressing story, three in total, of the situations that would drive individuals to make the journey to the United States. But Leon explores more than that. He shows us how brutal that journey truly is and the danger one faces when making it. Gangs, bribery, rape, torture, they’re all shown and explored as families attempt to be reunited and a better life is attempted to be reached.

But Leon also explores the policy that impacts immigration. From the rise of gangs like MS-13 and Barrio 18, to death squads, to the drug war, it’s all touched upon with brutal honesty.

Leon also provides the art. The combination of narrative and art creates almost like a poetic vibe about it all, but that also creates some flaws. There’s some issues with the lettering in the comic where it’s too small and the narrative at times jumps around being told in first person and third. That might be due to the fact it was a webcomic turned print, but it’s enough that I noticed and those issues stick out.

As a whole, this comic is powerful, even with it’s flaws. It creates a first person narrative and experience that lays things out in an honest and brutal way. This is the type of comic you wish was handed out so individuals could learn more about the situation and reality of it all. As it says, “immigration affects everyone,” and it’s not simple at all. Leon demonstrates that perfectly.

You can read the comic online, it’s updated every Friday.

Story: Pablo Leon Art: Pablo Leon
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation Buy