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Review – Middlewest #5 (Image Comics)

Middlewest #5 (Image Comics) cover (detail) by Mike Huddleston
Middlewest #5
Overall
8.8/10
8.8/10
  • Writing - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Art - 9/10
    9/10
  • Overall - 8.8/10
    8.8/10
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Summary

Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Nate Piekos of BLAMBOT
Cover Art: Mike Huddleston
Editor: Kent Wagenshutz
Production: Carey Hall
Maturity Rating: M
Release Date: March 20, 2019

Abel and Fox finally track down the Mystical Magdelena, as Abel is forced to confront his own inner demons. Will he be able to rectify the darkness within or is he doomed to become a monster, just like his father?

Becoming What You Hate in Middlewest #5

Sooner or later in life, we all become what we hate. The hypocrisy is inevitable and unavoidable. When I was a kid, I was so concerned with not becoming my father that I didn’t even notice how much I was becoming like my mother. The first time I heard the phrase “is it ‘need’ or is it greed?” escape my lips as an adult, I almost fell over in disgust. In Middlewest #5 Abel is experiencing a similar revelation of “parental becoming”. Only instead of picking up proverbs, he’s turning into a giant smoke monster. Relatable, is it not?

Writing

Middlewest #5 (Image Comics) cover by Mike Huddleston
Middlewest #5 (Image Comics) cover by Mike Huddleston

What’s arguably most enjoyable about Middlewest #5 and the series as a whole is how the story seems to play out on both a pragmatic and existential level. The “tornado monster” serves as both the antagonist and a metaphorical representation of Abel’s feelings and emotions toward his father; Skottie Young is personifying the anger within him. As the story progresses, Abel realizes that as much as he hates his father for all that he’s done, he’s also touched by that same anger; it’s inside him too.  He may never forgive his father but he can, in some ways, understand him. 

Very few writers out there craft the “kid on a quest” tale better than Skottie Young; he’s a modern-day Roald Dahl with Seussian finesse. Not only is Middlewest #5 an incredibly fantastical story but it’s also grounded, a strong commentary on parental relations and how emotional abuse can become systemic and cyclical. As the conclusion to arc one approaches, I’m excited to see how Skottie Young will look to further explore these themes and motifs.

Art

Something to know about Skottie Young is that he possesses one of the most easily recognizable artistic styles out there. You look at his work and there’s no question who did it. In fact, it meshes so well with his writing style that it’s often difficult to think of anyone else being able to replicate or recreate his synergy. Jorge Corona, however, is the exception that proves the rule.

Their two artistic styles are indistinguishable at times. Had I not known that Corona was the illustrator, I probably would’ve made the assumption that it was, in fact, Skottie Young at the helm, which feels too intentional to be a mere coincidence. More than likely I would presume that Corona’s designs are based on concepts from Young’s imagination, rather than the other way around. It makes sense that Young wants to keep a consistent aesthetic, but it does make you wonder, if that was the case, why he simply didn’t draw it himself?

Another constant shining through in the artwork is the beautiful palette of Jean-Francois Beaulieu. I’ve already mentioned how Young seems to enjoy a consistent aesthetic in his work; Beaulieu has colored every creator-owned title of Young’s from I Hate Fairyland to Bully Wars and beyond. His work reminds me of those old Garbage Pail Kids stickers you used to see floating around in the ’90s; remember those? Sickening and disgusting, yet somehow beautiful at the same time? That’s probably the best way I can describe his color scheme.  

Conclusion

I’ve been a fan of Skottie Young’s for a long time now; he’s always been one of my favorite artists. What I find exciting is that now he’s also becoming one of my favorite authors as well. The fact that he’s surrendering artistic creative control to someone other than himself would also seem to support the idea that writing is the area where Young wants to devote the majority of his focus moving forward. I’ve loved watching him evolve as a creator and I can’t wait for everything that’s in-store for Abel and Fox in Middlewest


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Jordan Claes

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