Middlewest is a new fantasy, coming-of-age story from Image Comics, one which promises a ton of adventure and mystery for readers. The series is written by Skottie Young and drawn by Jorge Corona. Jean-Francois Beaulieu does the colors, and Nate Piekos letters.
Abel is a paperboy in the Middlewest – a place that resembles our world, but isn’t (as far as we know). With his companion, a talking fox, Abel is thrust into an adventure, searching for answers “to quell a coming storm that knows his name.”
And if that description sounds vague, it’s by design. Middlewest is as much a mystery as it is an adventure story. The first issue is light on plot and backstory, instead introducing us to Abel and this world. We see his troubled home life, we see him getting into trouble with his friends, and then suddenly we’re on an adventure. It’s as shocking to Abel as it is to us, the readers, which is a brilliant way for Young to put his audience in Abel’s shoes.
This mystery element makes the book exciting and intriguing. When issue one wraps, you immediately crave issue two. The fact that the Middlewest so closely resembles our own midwestern United States only adds to that intrigue. Is it actually our world? Is it just a coincidence? If it is our world, when is this taking place? You’ll want to keep reading just to find out what’s going on.
Jorge Corona and Jean-Francois Beaulieu make a brilliant art team. Corona’s work has such raw power and energy behind it, and he knows exactly how to evoke emotion in the audience. You’re scared of Abel’s dad because of how Corona draws him, and you sympathize with Abel because of how Corona draws him. Beaulieu’s colors, meanwhile, define the tone of the Middlewest. During the day it’s this bright, lush land. It feels warm and safe. Then the night comes (and first of all, the transition to night is a masterfully done page), and there’s almost an otherworldly hue cast over the land. Suddenly there’s a darkness to it. Maybe there’s more to the Middlewest than we thought. All of that comes from Beaulieu’s colors.
Nate Piekos isn’t about to let everyone else have all the fun, though. His lettering delivers some power punches, from the way he letters the tornado monster’s dialogue, to the way he letters some dialogue small to evoke fear or suspense. There’s an edge to Middlewest, and Piekos’ work is a large part of that.
An adventure story is only as good as its adventurer, and this team has crafted a great protagonist in Abel. He’s not confident or brash; he’s a scared kid. The way Young writes Abel, and the way Corona draws him, you truly feel for him as a reader. I’m sure many readers will see their own young selves in Abel, which will make his story and his inevitable coming-of-age all the more fulfilling.
Middlewest #1 is a beautiful, captivating book about a boy and his fox. Young and Corona are crafting something truly special here, and you don’t want to miss it.
Middlewest #1 is out November 21st. We’ll be talking with Skottie Young and Jorge Corona about the book as well, so keep an eye out for that interview!