Drawn by Jason Latour
Cover by Lee Bermejo
Published by Vertigo
“Noche Roja” is a well done graphic novel that manages to combine the crime story with a well articulated outline with what’s wrong with the NAFTA Maquiladoras that stretch across the Texas/Mexican border.
Here’s a quick history lesson: Everything started to go wrong in the United States when NAFTA passed. We lost millions of good paying manufacturing jobs that we will probably never ever get back. Furthermore, the kinds of horrible dead end miserable lives that Mexican workers are now living is the plan for the United States. The plan for our country isn’t the fictional paradise of Norway. Its the slave labor conditions in Mexico and numerous other countries across the globe. Here’s a high level lefty discussion if you’re into that. Here’s a non doctrinaire but effective explanation of NAFTA’s bad effects here. Here’s a simple one minute youtube video from Mike Moore that also explains it. This is terrible news that you won’t probably ever see on your newscast because they’re owned by the same people who benefit from turning Americans into slave labor.
What’s remarkable is that Noche Roja is one of the few comics I’ve read that talks about the Mexican present and Third World misery.. Yes there’s WW3 but its not published by a major label indy imprint like Vertigo. This is a present that could easily turn into the American future. You can definitely tell that the writer has spent time living in the Third World. Without giving too much away, the story involves a number of issues that pervade the daily routines of the Mexican poor. 1.) You can be murdered very easily if you’re a journalist in Mexico. 2.) The treatment of Mexican workers, mostly women, is pretty horrible. Those workers are mistreated and abused for the most part. They don’t make a living wage and those factories have successfully lowered the standard of living for every U.S. Citizen. 3.) There are a number of unsolved murders (100s I think…) of mostly women within the Maquiladoras. It’s a serial killer’s dream.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, this all makes for a great and truly entertaining and suspenseful graphic novel. Here’s a scene early in the book that gives us the setup:
It works as art as well as polemic. The last 30 pages are just outright exciting. In fact, it would make a pretty entertaining film although it would be going to the same familiar places as Martin Sheen and Jennifer Lopez did in the relatively big budgeted “Bordertown”. Overall, a truly exciting thriller and a nice political story all in one. 4.5 out of 5 stars. And yes this is the kind of modern movie that you could film in black and white and it would work.
Related: Here’s the trailer for “Bordertown”. It really travels over the same kinds of terrain of “Noche Roja”.