In AfterShock Comics’ Midnight Vista #1 (on sale September 4,) writer Eliot Rahal takes the alien abduction trope and revitalizes it by adding new emotional layers. Rahal and the art team present the reader with a book that looks and feels like a remastered 1950’s B-movie and has the potential to offer fresh possibilities for the classic storyline.
Midnight Vista #1
Writer: Eliot Rahal
Artist Clara Meath
Colors: Mark Englert
Letters: Taylor Esposito
On the surface, Midnight Vista #1 is straightforward; Oliver Flores, a young boy, gets abducted by aliens and returns to his home in Bernalillo County 17 years later. But the strongest flavor in this issue comes from the details. By honing in on several of the brief narrative moments, it’s easy to see that they transform the comic from a fairly standard introduction to an alien story to a layered story that offers several possibilities for the next steps of the plot.
It’d be too easy to have Oliver come from a perfect life at home; instead, Rahal presents the reader with a child who’s sandwiched between two newly divorced, argumentative parents. In the first scene, Oliver hides and watches TV while parents loudly argue on the phone. Here, the most powerful detail is also one of the most subtle choices; as Oliver flips through the channels and his parents keep fighting, he rapidly increases the volume of the TV to drown them out. Rather than saying anything, crying or running away, Oliver simply sits there and tries to drown out the drama and lose himself in the TV. The entire art team works together to maximize the impact of the moment.
First, Meath draws Oliver sitting in the dark, with the TV acting as the only source of light in the room and Englert complements this contrast by practically drowning Oliver in the darkness. Finally, Esposito’s lettering acts as the cherry on top, as the sound of Oliver clicking the remote, paired with the increasing size of the speech bubbles for the TV and the parents’ argument, makes it clear that the boy is desperately trying to ignore the yelling. Each component of the art builds off another one and, altogether, it shows the successful level of collaboration that’s unique to comic books.
Of course, Midnight Vista #1 is also an alien abduction story and, goodness gracious, the whole team nails the tone of this genre. From the sight of Oliver getting beamed up to the alien spaceship to the jarring reveal of the aliens, a sense of extraterrestrial dread fills the issue. Meath’s aliens are based on the typical stereotype with freakishly large eyes and a slitted nose placed on a similarly oversized head. But, though the creatures’ appearance isn’t a new sight, both the story and the art team still make them grotesque and creepy.
The first time the reader sees the aliens, they’re dissecting Oliver; they’re holding the boy’s intestines in their hands. The creatures coldly tell Oliver to remain calm and one of the aliens mind-controls the boy as they shoot something into his nose. Plus, when the aliens, posing as humans, ask a police officer for help in their quest to find Oliver, one of the creatures literally says, “Small talk, small talk, small talk.�� The aliens are masquerading as humans and the combination of their stilted dialogue and their deformed disguises, the charade is unsettling.
Though Midnight Vista can’t be completely evaluated because the story just began, the first issue successfully draws the reader in. Rahal raises enough questions that makes the next installment mandatory reading for hooked readers.
What did you think of Midnight Vista #1? Where do you hope to see the story go from here?