Middlewest #15 is published by Image Comics, written by Skottie Young, art by Jorge Corona, colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu, and letters by Nate Piekos. With a monster storm tearing the Middlewest apart, the caravan assembled to take on Raider has stalled. While they struggle to get moving again, Abel, utilizing his recent promotion from the last issue, begins assembling the pieces to implement a plan of his own.
I have come to accept that every month Middlewest is somehow going to amaze me. After all these issues you’d think I’d be prepared for whatever the creative team is going to throw at me. But somehow, they still manage to impress me. Like so many other issues in this run, the level of emotion and sincerity that flows from the pages of Middlewest #15 is almost overwhelming. Young continues to pace this piece perfectly. Sprinkling so much character and heart throughout the story, making sure no issue could ever be dismissed as mere setup or filler.
With the caravan stopped due to a flooded river washing out the only bridge, Jeb and Maggie turn to some locals for help. They are quickly shown how to make rafts to get their people onto the water. However, due to the horrible winds, they lack sufficient means to cross the river as poling across isn’t a viable option. To remedy this, Jeb searches out the old River Master Mick Doran. Upon finding him, they discover old Mick has seen better days. Since his time as River Master, Mick has stopped being communicative with others. Maggie employs some of her magic to have a talk with Mick. This is the first time Mick has been able to interact with anyone in a while. It’s a touching scene, displaying Young’s masterful skill at pulling on the heartstrings.
Meanwhile, Abel and his crew are hard at work assembling their own plans. By using the skills and the resilience they have all earned through their own individual struggles, the kids are coming together to become something special. There is a moment here that really hit me. After successfully acquiring an item, Abel shows off his success to his friends. Abel is confident, even perhaps a bit cocky here. It made me smile. Then without warning, I was transported back to that scared child fleeing from a violent father onboard a train all those issues ago. Damn, these kids have come a long way. I felt ridiculously proud of this fictional character I’ve come to root for with all my heart.
The visuals in Middlewest #15 continue to be everything I have praised them for being since my first review of the series. Corona’s unique style captures all the character and emotion of Young’s story while Beaulieu’s colors make those images truly pop. Finish it off with Piekos’s clear, skillful lettering and you have the polish and pitch-perfect presentation that has been one of this series many hallmarks.
I can’t think of greater praise for a book than when it reaches that point where it’s built itself so well that a reader cannot wait to see what’s next while simultaneously dreading its arrival. For once it gets here, it’ll be over. And I’d very dearly love for Middlewest to never end.
Middlewest #15 is available February 19th wherever comics are sold.