Monday, October 31, 2005

Midnight Kiss #1

Never judge a book by its cover.

Especially not Midnight Kiss.

Had I seen this cover in Previews, I would have instantly dismissed it. Had I seen it on the shelves of 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics, I would have instantly dismissed it. Had I seen it on Newsarama, I would have instantly dismissed it.

From the cover, Midnight Kiss looks like every other back-of-Previews sex-n-violence badgirl wankfest, where the art is a sad conflation of Victoria's Secret and Michael Turner. I suppose softcore and weaponry sells to someone, but it simply ensures a quick flip of the page from me. I suppose The Engine has done its job, though, because Tony Lee's posts there got me to notice a title I normally would have ignored. The art gets a lot better once you get past the cover, but still suffers from an overabundance of posing and an underabundance of storytelling. The book starts with a bang: an action sequence that introduces the main characters on the fly in a great "show, don't tell" structure. The problem with "show, don't tell", though, is that if you're "show" isn't working .... then your "tell" isn't, either. Midnight Kiss almost gets derailed in the first few pages, as the visuals just don't set up the characters or tell the story nearly as well as they need to. It's a challenging and ambitious sequence, and Ryan Stegman just can't handle it. Past that difficult sequence, the art manages to hold it's own, and at least doesn't detract from the story.

And it's the story that's the selling point here. Tony Lee brings it fast and furious, starting the story at full speed and seldom stopping for breath. There's a lot of information here, but he never stops for infodump. I love the fact that Lee is writing up to his reader, assuming we're intelligent enough to put the pieces together without someone explaining everything in excruciating detail. And, frankly, exposition is so often overrated: I've got Forces Of Good, Forces of Evil, a complex world filled with history ... and that's about all I need to know. I can learn the rest on the run, and use my imagination to fill in the gaps. I'm a sucker for the style of story here - it's hard-edged fantasy and magic, a combination that appeals to me in some really basic way. This is a Tom Clancy techno-thriller with spells instead of glocks or a Matrix with fairies instead of circuits. I suppose I'm a sucker for fiction that explores "Raymond's Second Law" : "Any sufficiently advanced system of magic would be indistinguishable from a technology." The characters are competent and appealing, especially Matt Sable. Sable verges on a roguish bad-boy cliche, but goes past that by simply being such a good example of the cliche. I've been told in many a book that this or that character is "charming" ... Sable actually is.

I missed out preordering this, and issues may be hard to come by. I'll happily track them down, though. Regardless of the cover, I love the story and characters and look forward to seeing where it goes.



FreeThinker said...

Well, the cover is nice!

Anonymous said...

endless number of these wonderful finds, what with the Internet being a vast network of constantly evolving ideas and all!