Middlewest #8 // Review
A traveling carnival is struggling to recover from serious damage as a young man enters the forest looking for his mother. His father’s search for him finds him running into adversity in a small bar as Middlewest reaches its 8th issue. Skottie Young’s story steadily moves away from a major turning point in the previous issue. Things are about to get dark in an issue drawn by Jorge Corona with colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu. With the heavier interpersonal end of the drama in the rearview, Young and Corona dive a bit further into the shadowy horror fantasy of a very distinctive small-town American fantasy world.
Maggie’s traveling carnival is busy with repairs as a result of a somewhat devastating run-in with a supernatural tornado. The tenuous bonds which hold together the carnies are creating dramatic friction. There’s some question of whether or not Maggie should have let Abel leave the carnival even if he WAS the source of the storm that left everything in shambles. Meanwhile, Abel’s father runs into difficulty with strangers as his anger gets the better of him in a bar. Elsewhere, Abel and the fox that is his pet enter a foreboding forest only to run into danger with some of the local wildlife.
Young’s three-part issue advances three distinct storylines which are likely destined to collide with each other at the end of the next major plot arc. Young exhibits a solid and sophisticated understanding of where he wants the story to go and how it’s going to get there. Dialogue is a bit less poetic and witty in this issue that Young had managed in the past, but he IS steering the series into some pretty dark territory with this issue, so it’s natural that the series is going to shed some of the quaint charms that it had been accumulating in the past few issues.
Corona tenderly embraces the overall mood of an issue that edges into darkness. Recovery from a disaster gives way to frustration and anger that is written across the faces of every character in the book. Each of the three major scenes in the issue starts with a sense of possibility. before being plunged into a darkness that is brought to the page with subtle nuance by Corona with a sweeping change of mood in Beaulieu’s colors. The issue starts in daylight and edges into the night as darkness deepens. There’s a great sense of dynamic depth in the color.
There’s a clever balance to the issue that series well. The complexity of relations within the ensemble that could lead to a number of different directions over the course of the next few issues. The social and atmospheric ends of the world that Young and Corona’s world captures the imagination and runs with it. No one else is doing anything quite like this on the comic book rack. It’s a fun journey that makes another major step with its eighth issue.