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Midnight Nation

October 27, 2008

Well, I’m finally getting around to reviewing Midnight Nation, even though I said that I would do it like 3 weeks ago. It’s one of the many projects on here that I need to finish.

I’m going to try to keep this one short and sweet.

Background: Today’s author is one that you don’t hear about too much in the comic world but I’d say that as far as nerdom is concerned he is a big player in that world. Joseph Michael Straczynski (from here on referred to as JMS) is a prolific writer but what he is best known for is creating, writing, and producing Babylon 5. This guy has done a lot so I’ll try hit some of his more famous works from each medium that he’s worked in since the 1980s. In television he is known for Babylon 5, again, Murder She Wrote (and a couple of side movies based on the show), and The New Twilight Zone. In movies the upcoming movie Changeling was written by him. In comics JMS has worked on Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, and several smaller series for Marvel and Top Cow.

And that’s just a taste of what he’s worked on. Like I said, prolific.

The penciller behind Midnight Nation was not known to me before I read it but after reading it I love his style. He some very focused, beautiful, clean lines. The inking and the coloring make his art look even more amazing. Gary Frank, the penciller, is a British comic artist (I’m noting a trend in me reading British based comics lately…). For the most part Frank has worked for DC on such works as Batman, Supergirl, JLA and has a few titles for Marvel where he started out on the Incredible Hulk, also X-men Prime and the Uncanny X-men.

On to the comic –

The Comic: Midnight Nation is a 12 issue series that has been collected in graphic novel form. I don’t want to give away too much, simultaneously, I feel that the summary I’m about to give will be very scant and unfulfilling. Let’s see if I can find a balance.

The story follows a Los Angeles police detective, David Grey, who opens up with a brutal murder in an alley. It’s a normal cop drama for all of 10 pages before he loses his soul. What follows is Grey’s attempt to get his soul back from the monsters that stole it from him. However, he is no longer in the “real” world, instead, he finds himself stuck “in-between” where people who’ve fallen between societies cracks end up, like say Lazarus.

On his journey Grey is accompanied by a hard-boiled, sarcastic, but hot, woman named Laurel. He finds out along the way that others before him have had their soul stolen and made this same journey with Laurel and all have failed. Ooh, pressure.

Alright, I think that about gives you a good idea of where the story is headed without delving too deep into the psychology and mythology of it. Straczynski makes you feel like you’re reading a script for a sci-fi television show and the plot follows that theme.

My biggest “complaints” would be that the opening is a little slow and cliche and when you first meet David and Laurel they’re definitely one-dimensional characters but once the story gets rolliing I feel that they flesh out some and give you more edges to see. It’s a weird novel because while it can feel very cliche throughout it also feels fresh and interesting. To be honest I’m not sure if I should classify it as either or if I even can.

As I mentioned in the background section, Frank’s art is awesome. I cannot praise it enough. The quality of art that is in this novel makes it worth a look alone. Forget the plot and the writing, Frank’s drawings really move this story along and the best part is that JMS realized this and let the art do a lot of the story telling. It’s a good balance.

My recommendation: Well, I’ve been raving over this comic for awhile now so you know that my recommendation is to go out and pick it up for your collection. It’s the kind of book you read multiple times and enjoy every time. Five clubs.

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

Scyo.

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