All images of Middlewest #1 courtesy of Image Comics, 2018.
Your heart will hurt when you read this one for the first time. Middlewest #1 by writer Skottie Young (I HATE FAIRYLAND, Deadpool) and artist Jorge Corona (NO. 1 WITH A BULLET, Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack) pulls inspiration from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to create a darkly moving issue. A single, forced tear was shed, and I appreciated that emotional catharsis.
“I’m putting so much of myself and my life into this book that sometimes I have to remind myself there’s not really a raging tornado monster chasing me. It’s like we took a Don Bluth movie, Miyazaki, the dark adventures of old Henson movies, and my childhood, then put them in a blender.”
The protagonist, Abel, a young boy, and his fox companion live a working-class life with a dead-beat father. Through a series of truths, they deal with a tornado that represents a lot of metaphorical demons. The themes of familial abuse, death, and PTSD may trigger some readers. I believe Young handled these topics with plenty of grace that creates a powerful opening narrative. Middlewest #1 begins a dark fantasy that doesn’t pull its punches.
The Tornado In Middlewest #1 Are the Fears That Chase You In Your Waking Moments
You can interpret Middlewest #1 through plenty of different thought processes. We don’t know if Abel’s adventures occur in reality or if they manifest themselves as a coping mechanism for an abused kid. There’s a lot of merit to both interpretations. I like how I don’t need a story to go in a particular way to experience the ride.
The writing lends itself to a lot of speculation that brings out an enjoyable conversation between fans. Even if that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, the crazy fan theories will bring me a lot of personal joy. We’re not sure how this adventure continues, but there are many interesting plot threads to answer. What I’m personally looking forward to is how the writer will deal with the conflict between father and son.
You can go the route of forgiveness or anger, but each is a valid choice for Abel. I like the truth that comes from his emotions because they’re all messy. The one issue that I may bring up is that Abel comes off as frustrating to some readers because of his choices, but I, personally, enjoyed his personal flaws.
Art To Put The Emerald City To Shame
I talk about colors quite a bit, but I really love the gem-like sheen that makes this line art pop. It gives Abel’s hometown a dreamy aura and the nightmarish scenarios a true terror to behold. You do feel like you’re a kid in a world you can’t control. The art and the writing don’t conflict and make the piece weaker; but, in turn, bring out the strengths of the story.
“Being part of this amazing team is a dream come true, and having Skottie’s trust to help him bring this world to life is really a privilege. I just can’t wait for everyone else to join us along with Abel as we travel through Middlewest.”Jorge Corona
The obscurer transitions in the story are horrific, but a touch of humanity is added because the facial expressions deliver a lot to Middlewest #1. The anger and loss in both Abel and his father show two frail people. While I’ll never sympathize with Abel’s father, I do recognize the beginnings of where that rage stems because of its visual cues. It was one of the most powerful moments of the story.
Why Should You Read Middlewest #1?
If you’re a fan of a fantasy coming-of-age story, Middlewest #1 promises to be a strong contender in that genre. I’d also recommend this issue for the fact that Abel moved my heart. While he makes his attempts at being a genuine person, he fails from time to time.
It creates a relatable character I’d look forward to seeing grow. He has a lot of fight in him that I hope ends in an interesting conclusion. Let’s hope your tornado doesn’t blow you away to a world where you can’t grab yourself a copy of this story.