Julio Anta‘s Home #1 begins as a real-life drama depicting an authentic immigrant experience of a mother, Mercedes, and her son, Juan. They are escaping the violence plaguing their home in Guatemala City and seeking a better life in the United States. The journey is treacherous and long. With beautiful art by Anna Wieszczyk, we see the mother-son duo struggling through their journey to the border. With Anta’s explanation of Trump’s Zero Tolerance border control policy throughout the beginning panels, he is foreshadowing the end of their trip to the border.
The colors by Bryan Valenza help exemplify the settings we see our duo travel through, the warm colors depicting the scalding heat and lush forests with a direct contrast of dark blues when the pair reach “The Icebox.” Like in the real world, the two are separated and put into separate facilities, caged like cattle. There’s no real help for these individuals. They are at the hands of a government that shuns them. The border patrol who watch over them vary from confused and uncertain to cartoonishly hostile and racist. They snatch hungry babies from weeping mothers and punish Juan for trying to take an orange, throwing him into isolation. Anta’s writing is raw because it’s America’s reality. It’s all still happening now under President Joe Biden.
However, amidst that reality comes the twist, and this tale is more than just a dark reminder of America’s foreign policy. There’s more to Juan; the boy is gifted. With superpowers, and the ability to conjure flames, he escapes his detainment and flees. He is an illegal alien in a new world. An immigrant with more power than those in power honestly sounds like a racist’s worst nightmare come true, and I welcome it. I’m sure many children are trapped in those cages wishing they could escape. How many wish they, too, can be like Superman and bust through those chain-link fences to find their way back home? Anta’s story begins as a natural introduction to our country’s cruel hospitality. It ends as the start of an alternate reality to the immigrant story. It’s intriguing, it’s different, and I’m happy to see it in this medium.
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