Middlewest, Book One by Skottie Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was recommended to me on a website where I hang out. It's something I would never have stumbled across on my own, because I've perused one of the author's previous graphic novels (I Hate Fairyland) and wasn't impressed. This one, however, has a better storyline and characters, and the art is bright and bold.
Abel is a young boy with a talking fox sidekick and an emotionally abusive father, who flees after his father loses his temper and reveals himself to be a tornado monster. (The talking fox is revealed on page 6, so we see right away that the town of Farmington is not quite set in our world.) The story follows Abel's flight and the monsters and others he encounters, including trolls, crow monsters on a train, and a wizard. Abel's father left a brand of power on his chest, and it soon turns out Abel is a budding tornado monster himself. In a desperate attempt to stop this, Abel hunts down the carnival troupe of a mystic named Magdalena, takes up with them, and begins to make a home for himself.
One thing I appreciate about this comic is that it isn't rushed. Some comics (Marvel is particularly prone to this, I think) just push too much into 12 pages, or whatever the average issue size is. This one takes its time unfolding its storyline, characters and worldbuilding, and lets them breathe. This can be a fine line to walk, juggling between deliberate and slow, but this graphic novel succeeds. I came to care about the characters and want to know what happens to Abel, particularly since this volume ends on a massive cliffhanger. Which is an annoyance, of course, but it just about guarantees that I'll pick up Volume 2 when it comes out.
Give this a try. I think many of you will like it.
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