Comic Reviews: American Carnage and Middlewest!


STL099783.jpgAmerican Carnage #1 (Vertigo Comics)

Comics are able to hold a mirror up to our world like no other medium, and no comic holds up a mirror quite like American Carnage, the new series from Vertigo. Written by Bryan Hill and drawn by Leandro Fernandez, American Carnage details a disgraced FBI agent’s attempt to infiltrate a white supremacist group, but what how far can he go without losing his soul?

Years ago, Richard King made a grave mistake, and accidentally killed an innocent teenager. Retired from the FBI, he’s awash in booze, drugs, and other shady business to keep his mind at ease. But when his former mentor Agent Curry comes to him to help the agency infiltrate a white supremacist group that’s believed to be behind the murder of a fellow agent, Richard quickly realizes that he may not be as ready to go back into the agency as he thinks.

Bryan Hill’s previous superhero scripts weren’t afraid to get political, but with American Carnage he hits a whole other level. While I’m sure the subject matter of this series will make some uncomfortable, it really can’t be done without it. Hill’s decision to have King be of mixed race comes into play here, as King is both of African American and Caucasian descent, making him the perfect agent to infiltrate the group. But Hill does a great job of showing King’s reluctance to take part in this mission, and setting the stakes for the series as a whole. There’s a heavy sense of uneasiness to this opening issue, and if the tension is this intense in the first issue, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like in the future.

Leandro Fernandez made a big splash with The Old Guard, and while American Carnage isn’t as action packed as that series, he does a great job of building the mood here with his art. Using a lot of shadows and heavy inks, Fernandez’ art is perfectly suited for this type of story, and reminds me a lot of RM Guera’s artwork on Scalped, another Vertigo series that seems to be a major influence on this one.

If you’re looking for a new crime series, and can handle some challenging themes, American Carnage is for you. All signs point to this being something as special as Criminal and Scalped, and could also have some pretty poignant things to say about our current political climate. Check it out.


Middlewest #1 (Image Comics) index

Skottie Young is well-known for his hilarious “kid version” variants for Marvel, but he’s also an established writer as well, with some great runs on Rocket Raccoon and his Image series I Hate Fairyland. Now he’s adding on to his Image stable of titles with Middlewest, a new fantasy series that stars a young boy fighting the living embodiment of a storm.

When a massive storm starts coming for Abel’s home, he’s thrown off by it screaming his name. In actuality it’s his father, who’s just transformed into a monstrous storm after fighting his son. Abel’s always had some weird stuff around him, like the talking fox that follows him around, but this is a whole other level, and he’ll need to travel the country to get the answers he seeks to stop this storm and get his father back.

Skottie Young’s script, while a little more serious than I Hate Fairyland, is really great and sets up an intriguing mystery. Young sets up a really cool and wonderful world that’s like ours, but just slightly off-kilter. It’s got a very Neil Gaiman vibe to it, and moves along at a pretty quick pace too. Young’s already shown that he can create really unique worlds with Fairyland, but it’s cool to see him try something a little more mature with this series.

Unfortunately, Skottie Young isn’t drawing Middlewest, but thankfully Jorge Corona’s art is just similar enough to Young’s art that it almost seems like he did. Corona’s art is still just as kinetic as Young’s, and his designs for the world are really dynamic. His personification of the storm is one of the best panels I’ve seen this year, and I can’t wait to see what else is coming from this book.

So far Middlewest is another solid debut for Skottie Young, and I’m expecting nothing but great things from the series. While it’s not as hilarious and weird as I Hate Fairyland, Skottie Young is definitely stretching out his narrative muscles here, and it seems like this will become another series that will garner more attention for the creator. Fans of fantasy series like Sandman will definitely want to seek it out.

Posted on November 21, 2018, in Comic reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Both series sound great. Your American Carnage recap reminds me of Briggs Land, which I love, so I will have to give AC a try.

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