Sunday, September 5, 2010

Midnight Nation Trade Paperback from Top Cow

Despite its billing as a 'perennial classic' I've got to admit that I've never read J. Michael Staczynski's Midnight Nation which has been released this week in trade paperback by Top Cow.

I've read the solicitation countless times on line, seen numerous pages of preview art, even browsed through copies at conventions and yet, for some reason, never picked up, sat down and read it. I was grateful, therefore, to receive a review pdf of the book recently and finally had my opportunity to do just that: sit down and read a book I've heard so much about.

Twenty five pages or so later I stopped reading and closed the pdf ... at that point I was so enjoying my read that I'd decided that Midnight Nation is a book that I want - need - to own, that I want to hold in my hands, that I want to read from a printed page.

I've written a number of times recently about how much I'm enjoying the current trend for $1 comics, where I can afford to take a gamble on something I wouldn't normally read - Proof and Walking Dead come to mind - and if I enjoy the single issue I'll pick up the collection: this review pdf has for me served a similar purpose.

The book opens with very much a crime noir feel - we're immediately introduced to a Lieutenant Grey who once again finds himself at the scene of a particularly violent murder. However, as the story develops it becomes quite clear that this particular incident isn't going to result in a run of the mill investigation and by the time I'd closed the file it was clear this was going to be anything other than a run of the mill crime noir story.

I particularly enjoyed and appreciated Staczynski's use of, at times lengthy, inner monologue which I felt nicely conveyed the dark, menacing environment that Grey operates in. He's portrayed as a good, almost traditional, detective who uses his surroundings to 'see' how a crime had played-out. By the same token, I suspect he's a man who doesn't suffer fools gladly and resents that fact that at times his work is driven by the system.

Alongside the text and dialogue I particularly appreciated the artwork: at times dark and brooding, elsewhen bright, hopeful and inviting - particular credit for this should, I suspect, go to Matt Milla's colours.

I'm looking forward to receiving my order of Midnight Nation to see how the story unfolds - I believe I saw enough in the first 25 or so pages to expect the unexpected.

Midnight Nation
Written by J. Michael Staczynski, pencilled by Gary Frank, inked by Jonathan Sibal and Jason Gorder, coloured by Matt Milla
New Printing of Perennial Classic!
Midnight Nation is a thought-provoking story with religious overtones about a police officer in limbo who goes on a cross-country search for his soul but encounters some mighty obstacles along the way. When it first came out in 2000, J. Michael Straczynski's (Superman, Wonder Woman) provocative storytelling and the fantastic art of Gary Frank (Superman: Secret Origin, Supreme Power) captivated readers with its mix of action, horror and drama built around a message of hope, loyalty and sacrifice.

Full colour, 304 pages, $24.99, paperback
Published by Top Cow Productions