*** Spoilers for Middlewest #1 ***
When you see the name “Skottie Young” a certain comic book look goes through your mind. He has created hundreds of covers with that same essential style. But for this book, Scottie is the writer not the cover artist. (excluding the retailer incentive of issue #1) What is Skottie up to?
After reading the first issue, Skottie is up to something wonderfully creative and powerful.
One layer of this story is straightforward about a kid living with an abusive parent. Abel lives in a trailer with his dad who is violent and verbally abusive. He oversleeps and gets a horrible belittling. This young kid rushes out to deliver newspapers only to have the wind blow them away. He struggles to gather them but the wind is too strong. With no papers to deliver, Abel goes with his friends to play some video games and have some snacks. At the convenient store run by old man Randall, his friends stuff his newspaper bag full of snacks and they get caught. Randall calls their parents. The other kids are quickly picked up but Abel waits the entire day for his dad to arrive. That night his Dad picks him up, seething with anger.
When they arrive back at the trailer his Dad tells him that he is sleeping outside tonight. As the father continues to berates his son, finally the boy says, “This is why Mom left you.” The Dad claims that Abel is the reason she left not him. Frustrated, crying and hurt Abel drops the F-bomb. The Dad’s anger ignites again and he slaps Abel down to the ground. Blame, anger and violence are the primary weapons of this Dad and this part of the story.
Emerging from the reality of abuse comes a tale bigger and more imaginative. With growing rage the Dad turns into an enormous living tornado monster. Abel runs for some kind of safety behind a car. His friend suggests that they run for the train and get out of town. As he leaps for the train the tornado monster touches him leaving a heart shaped mark. The train steams away and his Dad/tornado monster dissolves into wisps of smoke. During this story, whenever Abel was away from his father or his friends, a talking fox was his companion.
In the back of the book Skottie Young talks about the idea for the story and how he wanted to tell a story about magic lurking under the surface. Wizards don’t have to look like Gandalf the Grey, they can look like farmers. Yet, the first issue isn’t much about magic.
After reading it you wonder, did Abel’s Dad turn into a living tornado or was that how he saw him? What are those pink containers? Where is this kid going? Is the fox real or is it a coping mechanism for Abel? What kind of magic is Skottie hiding?
Overall, I loved the blend of realistic relationship problems with the imaginative elements. Issue #2 is due out on December 19 so buy #1 while you still can.
by Ron Cloer