REVIEW: ‘Middlewest,’ Book #1 Trade Paperback

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Middlewest Book #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Skottie Young, with art by Jorge Corona, colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu, and letters by Nate Piekos. Middlewest, while showcasing many fantastical elements, such as magic powers, terrible transformations, and even a talking fox, is at its heart a story about the scars we have handed down to us from our upbringing and what it sometimes takes to escape them.

The story in Middlewest Book #1 centers around a young boy named Abel who lives with his dad who, to be frank, is horrible to the poor kid. We are quickly shown that any act of Abel’s that is less than perfect unleashes his father’s horrible temper. Abel is forced to live in fear of his dad’s angry rage until one-day things escalate to a whole new level and Abel is forced to flee his sleepy hometown but not before his dad leaves him one last parting gift.

The rest of the book finds Abel and his constant companion Fox on a quest to undo the burden Abel carries with him. Interesting characters and locals fill this book. Every person introduced is so interesting they could have their own spin-off series written about them explaining how they got to where they are.

But even though writer Skottie Young breathes life into all of his characters with skill, the star of the show is always Abel. His struggle to move past what his father has left him with, or denied him from having, takes center stage. Additionally, the use of magic to create a more tangible representation of those scars that parents can pass onto their children is masterfully done. There was a number of times I wanted to reach into the pages of the book to try to comfort Able and let him know he would be okay.

Augmenting this story is a visual style that is both unique and eye-catching from Corona. Characters are designed with a freshness that helps them stand out, even when they fit into familiar archetypes. These designs further make each character feel fleshed out and original.

I love the visuals of the world of in Middlewest Book #1 as a whole. While mostly appearing to take place in the modern day world there are differences that stand out but are never actually addressed. As these differences have had no story impact this is a clever way to give the world and its differences a sense of normalcy. The aspects that look strange to the reader are clearly present in everyday life, and as such, go beneath the notice of the characters. This sense of familiarity helps make certain moments when the story takes the familiar and rips it away from Abel that much more impactful. Corona also has an excellent eye for scale as the mundane as small-town life gets transformed into something massive and terrifying.

Middlewest Book #1 has a lot of heart, soul, and trauma within its pages. It reveals a young boy going through horrors and tragedy while also discovering joy and hope. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for some genuine emotion and feeling mixed in with just a touch of the magical.

Middlewest Book #1 is available now wherever comic books are sold.

Middlewest Book #1
5

TL;DR

Middlewest Book #1 has a lot of heart, soul, and trauma within its pages. It reveals a young boy going through horrors and tragedy while also discovering joy and hope.