By Cat Wyatt
It’s time for issue #4 of Barrier. How they’re planning on following up the extraordinary storytelling style shown in the last issue is anyone’s guess. The last time we saw our weary and unwilling travelers, they were trapped in a room that was rapidly filling with a water-like substance. Here we’ll hopefully not only find out they survive that, but how they’re planning on getting out of this situation altogether.
This issue starts off with a flashback for Oscar. It’s showing us a bit more of his life before he left to try and cross the border. If you don’t speak Spanish, don’t panic about not being able to understand everything that’s going on. While you may miss some of the nuances of the story being told, you should still be able to understand the bigger picture, which is exactly what the creative team wanted in this case.
The flashback is rather grotesquely concluded with the appearance of a decomposing head…which is somewhat worrying. It does indeed to be a part of the flashback, as the scene wouldn’t make sense in the current continuity. One can only assume that this is…er…was somebody that Oscar knew, which is a horribly depressing realization.
If you had any doubts about the head not belonging in the current situation, the next page clears that up pretty nicely. Oscar and Liddy are still in the tube thing, and it is still very full of water, or whatever that substance is. It’s probably best not to think about that one too much.
The situation certainly looks grim. They’re trapped in an alien spaceship, inside a relatively small container, and presumably, they can’t breathe whatever is filling up the tube. So it looks like they’re going to drown. Especially when they don’t seem to know how to open the container.
Thankfully we’re not forced to watch a rather graphic end to this story. Somehow they both end up getting dumped out of the tube. While the situation still isn’t ideal, and won’t be improving until they know where they are, at least they’re alive.
They are, however, in a world that is literally stranger than fiction. While it’s unlikely that they’re still on the spaceship, it’s impossible to deniable that it could be the case. More likely they’re on the home planet for…whatever is doing this. We haven’t seen the alien race behind this yet. Probably.
While the alien planet is strange and more than a little bit terrifying, it is quite striking. There are colors all around them that are usually only seen in the most exotic plants and animals back on earth. A botanist would absolutely adore the chance to explore this new world.
Remember that whole statement about not seeing the creatures behind this setup? Yeah, can’t say that anymore. They’re reminiscent of plants, while very clearly being capable of movement and communication…they’re very strange and just a little bit creepy.
On the bright side, Liddy and Oscar are alive, together, and have found some food. It may not be the healthiest food in the world (whole new meaning to that term now), but it’s something. Liddy also managed to find some pants, which is fantastic. It’s hard enough to have to face the unknown, but having to do it with your butt exposed to every breeze in the universe? No thank you!
An unfortunate find by Oscar brings the reality of the situation down upon them. The odds of them surviving aren’t great. The odds of them successfully getting back home? Even worse. Liddy has some plans; all of them are fueled by passion and emotion. She could control how she dies here, take the choice upon herself, or she could fight back.
Liddy is a fighter, through and through, so it’s no surprise which option she ends up going with. It’s less clear which option Oscar would have gone with, had he been by himself. But he has Liddy to work with here, so he’ll gladly follow her lead. Especially if the alternative is watching her fight and die.
Barrier has been such a unique experience; it’s almost impossible to put it into words. Our characters have been put in an impossible situation, torn away from their homes and loved ones. They don’t know each other, can’t understand each other’s language, and yet they have to trust each other and cooperate. It’s impossible not to appreciate what they’ve already achieved, while simultaneously worrying about what’s going to happen next.
Brian K. Vaughan has done a wonderful job of making us care about these two characters, despite knowing almost nothing about them. Anybody that has read Vaughan’s work previously knows that there’s plenty of reason to worry about the fate of these two, as Vaughan is not known for pulling punches.
Like the last few issues, the artwork for this series has been quite incredible. At times it’s easy to consider the work bland, but when you look closer at it, you’ll realize the depth of detail and emotion being shown by our almost nonverbal characters. It’s quite brilliant and supports the story better than I’ve seen anywhere else.