Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Editor: Kent Wagenschutz
Producer: Carey Hall
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: November 21, 2018
Pulp Nation Rating: 9.5
There isn’t much backstory in the debut of Middlewest, but that’s by design. Middlewest #1 introduces us to our protagonist Abel and his talking fox (“because comic books!”).1
Abel is just a regular ol’ paperboy in Middlewest. Middlewest could be anywhere in the Midwest—with a few fantastical exceptions as we find out later.
Our pal Abel lives with his father; their relationship could be explained as strained at best, and downright unhealthy at worst. Abel’s father is resentful, bitter individual and he’s quite easy to dislike.
Well, Abel’s life is about to change and who knows where this wild train ride is going to take him.
Skottie Would like to Introduce You to Someone
As mentioned previously, there isn’t much backstory in Middlewest #1. Skottie Young wants us to takes some time getting to know Abel and his life as a regular kid in Middlewest. Well, a regular kid who’s got a talking fox for a friend.
Some series start off and you have an idea of where the story is going to go. That’s not that case with Middlewest #1. Young has the reader guessing the whole way through. It truly leaves you itching more for more, and that is the sign of a great introduction.
The Tale of Two Middlewests
The pencil work of Jorge Corona is fantastic. The soft angles of Abel’s face make him likable immediately, whereas the harsh angles of his father’s face lead to immediate dislike. Abel’s father has one of those faces you just wanna punch—not that it would change his disposition, nor am I endorsing violence; he’s just got one of those faces.
Middlewest looks like what the Midwest would look like. Regular downhome folk during the day, just going about their business. That is, until they sun goes down. Corona shows us a different side of Middlewest with the colors of Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
Oh my gosh, the colors; Beaulieu work is masterful. During the day, the colors are lush and warm, just as you would expect the Midwest to be in the summer. Yet, at night it takes on a dark, mysterious tone. We’re not in Middlewest anymore; we’re somewhere more dark and sinister.
And speaking of day and night, there is a full-page day-to-night transition in Middlewest #1 that absolutely blew my mind. The layout is simply five full-wide tiers each with the same setting, with subtle changes in each tier by Corona and Beaulieu. In his book Comic and Sequential Art, the late Will Eisner spoke about framing time; this page is one of the best examples of framing time I’ve seen in quite some time.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about Nate Piekos and his brilliant letters. I’ve said this many time before, if you can denote the emotion of the speaker without even thinking about it as you read through a comic, the letterer has done his job to perfection. Piekos letters change the whole dynamic of a character’s dialogue without you even knowing it; the sign a great letterer. There ‘s one particular panel in which Abel’s father is sitting in his truck and you know exactly how angry he is. Something as simple, yet powerful, as font size changes everything.
Final Thoughts: Middlewest #1
The creative team behind Middlewest did a wonderful job and I can’t wait to see where Abel ends up on his unexpected adventure.
Middlewest #1 is an action-packed emotional roller coaster ride of adventure and mystery that you won’t want to get off any time soon!