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Updated: Jun 24, 2021

Story: Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrator: Marcos Martín

Publisher: Panel Syndicate

Barrier #1, cover, Panel Syndicate, Vaughan/Martín


A brief, made-for-the-Internet comic that reminds us we aren’t as different from each other as we think.

Think a scaled-down version of the movie, Crash, but with aliens.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? (Minor Spoilers)

When aliens abduct two people (one, a white woman who only speaks English and works for Border Patrol, and the other, a Mexican man who only speaks Spanish and is trying to make it across the border into the US), they have to work together to escape.

The whole story is very short, but it explores the physical and metaphorical barriers between people, the senselessness of violence and the basic humanity we share despite those things.


  • Fast pace, few characters and shortened pages help keep the story’s momentum

  • Use of multiple languages with no translation forces you to think like the characters in their situations

  • Showing hardships for each character makes them feel more three-dimensional, humanizing them to help drive the moral home

  • Vaughan isn’t afraid of using fewer words or straight-up silence to build suspense or convey a tone

  • The art is very expressive, highlighting facial expressions and body language

  • It’s striking seeing the balance of “real world” colors with more alien ones

  • This creative team is crazy talented


  • Buying it from Panel Syndicate’s website is a hassle – I downloaded the file, which my iPhone can’t load, so I had to download it to the cloud and read it from there on my desktop

  • If you don’t speak the languages in the comic, you may feel like you’re only getting part of the story

  • It can start to feel very preachy

  • If you’re the type of person who would read this story, you’re not the type of person who needs to read this story and get its message

Barrier #1, page 47, Panel Syndicate, Vaughan/Martín


Even if you're already "woke," Barrier is a powerful metaphor for all the barriers that exist between us, physical and figurative, man-made and otherwise. It's an update to the classic Swords-to-Plowshares tale, told by a team of experts. A reminder that we're all in it together -- and we all may need to be reminded of that from time to time.


If you like the writing:

  • Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1 by G. Wilson, Adrian Alphonsa & Sara Pichelli

  • Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

  • Strange Fruit by J. G. Jones & Mark Waid

If you like the art:

  • The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martín (the same creative team as this book!)

  • Daredevil, Vol. 1 by Mark Waid, Paolo Manuel Rivera & Marcos Martín

  • Generation Gone, Vol. 1 by Ales Kot, André Lima Araujo & Chris O’Halloran


Brian K. Vaughan – Writer

  • Name Recognition: One of the most talented and celebrated writers in the industry

  • Award Winner: Has won a truly incredible amount of awards for his other comics

  • Is often directly inspired by what is going on in his life at the time

Marcos Martín – Design, Pencils, Inks & Translations

  • Muntsa Vicente’s partner

  • Most of his experience has been in cover art for comics

  • Dream Team: Also worked with Vaughan and Vicente on the award-winning comic, The Private Eye.

Muntsa Vicente – Colors

  • Marcos Martín’s partner

  • Multitalented: Outside of the comics industry, she currently works for fashion & beauty magazines and in the advertising industry.

  • Dream Team: Also worked with Vaughan and Vicente on the award-winning comic, The Private Eye.


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The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.

All Panel Syndicate characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Panel Syndicate or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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