REVIEW: ‘Middlewest, Issue #18

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Middlewest #18
Middlewest
#18 is published by Image Comics, written by Skottie Young, art by Jorge Corona, colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu, and colors by Nate Piekos. With the fields awash in flame and Raider dead, there’s only one last loose end to tie up. As it began with Abel and his dad so to will it end. But how will their reunion go? Will Abel break the cycle of violence that has flowed through his family or be swept away by its relentless currents.

Endings are hard. When one has followed a story for a year and a half and had their heart broken by a said story over and over again, the expectations for the finale can easily runaway. You want that last beat to be perfection. To tie up all the strings, while giving closure to all the characters you have followed along the way. I knew Middlewest #18 would deliver a great ending. But nothing prepared me for just how great it would be. Let’s see if I can gather my thoughts into something coherent for you.

The core of Middlewest #18 is its writing. Young has poured a truly staggering amount of emotion into these pages. He dives deep into every theme he explores and doesn’t shy away from hard answers. This willingness to embrace the hard realities of life gives the story’s ending a relatability that only makes it hit closer to home. It would’ve been easy to embrace the cookie-cutter “happily ever after” ending I momentarily feared would happen. But Young makes the right call by rejecting it. Through this decision we see Abel make, not only a more realistic choice but also a far healthier one.  He becomes an example of how one can truly overcome trauma and move on from it.

Middlewest #18

While the bulk of Middlewest #18‘s story rightly focuses on Abel’s confrontation with his father, that’s not all readers have in store. Several other characters get their moments within its pages. Perhaps the most potent of these comes from Maggie. She is given a moment here that speaks volumes. It’s a message to the whole world and anyone who has ever, intentionally or not, being an accomplice in making it worse. And just like it’s the main narrative, no easy out is given. Just a hard truth that people have to accept if they are to move forward.

Just as the story delivers a dazzling ending to Middlewest’s tale so too does the art.  Corona’s work helps each dramatic moment land with every once of emotional energy one could ask for. And the liberal use of cross-page panels allows the scale of Abel and his father in their transformed states to come across perfectly.  This creates a kinetic feeling in the story. As the reader is pulled out one moment, just to be driven back into the many close-ups of faces as the personal moments play out. A remarkably versatile masterclass of comic book artistry.

To further allow the art to shine as it does is Beaulieu’s perfect colors. Accentuating every storm cloud, every moment of rage, and every tear laden cheek with the perfect color palette, they put the icing on the art’s perfectly made cake.

To wrap up Middlewest #18’s delivery is a pitch-perfect lettering job by Piekos. The placement of dialogue boxes is perfect. Choice of font size to escalate the emotions of a panel, perfect. As with the rest of this book’s presentation, there was nothing from the letters here I could find fault with.

Middlewest as a whole has been a singular literary experience I will never forget. Much of that is due to just how phenomenally Middlewest #18 lands that often elusive perfect ending. It is emotional, profound, and delivers a final moment that is true to both its story, and its characters. Lastly, I would simply like to say, to Young, Corona, Beaulieu, and Piekos, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! All these issues will forever be prizes of my comic book collection. And you all deserve every Eisner Middlewest can be put up for.

Middlewest #18 is available July 22nd whoever comics are sold.

Middlewest #18
5

TL;DR

Middlewest as a whole has been a singular literary experience I will never forget. Much of that is due to just how phenomenally Middlewest #18 lands that often elusive perfect ending. It is emotional, profound, and delivers a final moment that is true to both its story, and its characters. Lastly, I would simply like to say, to Young, Corona, Beaulieu, and Piekos, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! All these issues will forever be prizes of my comic book collection. And you all deserve every Eisner Middlewest can be put up for.