Friday, June 10, 2016

Review - Midnight of the Soul #1 (@ImageComics)

"That faith would sustain him amongst the mud men."

Fighting in a war is not something soldiers typically seek out. No matter how old or young one is, you can never be fully prepared for what you'll encounter during war--or after. Sometimes it's the post-war life that proves to be more difficult than life during the war, as in Midnight of the Soul #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin, colored by Jesus Aburtov and lettered by Ken Bruzenak.

It’s 1950, and Joel Breakstone, former GI and liberator of Auschwitz, is seriously damaged goods. He hasn’t exhaled a sober breath in five years—until the sheltered life he’s created for himself unravels and he begins the long night that will change his life forever.

There's a palpable tension throughout Midnight of the Soul #1 that Chaykin capitalizes on quite masterfully. Joel Breakstone is a very damaged individual and Chaykin isn't shy about making his life as rotten as possible, despite his seemingly heroic efforts fighting during the war. His current predicament lends itself exceptionally well to the direction of the story in that it acts as a microcosm of the world at large. Chaykin realizes that the world isn't a very nice place for many people and all the characters in Midnight of the Soul #1 proceed along this track, using one another in ways that are beneficial to them at the expense of others. It's hard to root for even Joel based on this, especially considering the fact that he's really no better than anyone else despite his efforts during the war.

Chaykin doubles down on the artwork in Midnight of the Soul #1 and his style offers the book a very refined look. Joel is depicted as both a war-ravaged soldier and a struggling writer in the suburbs, yet despite the clearly disparate outfits Chaykin allows him to maintain a sense of familiarity. Filling out the book are other characters, all of whom are powerfully expressive and really hammer home their respective personalities. The coloring work by Aburtov is subdued, allowing incidents of violence to really stand out amidst the otherwise mundane daily routine. And Bruzenak does a powerful job with the lettering, allowing emphatic actions to be defined by big, bold letters in certain panels.

Midnight of the Soul #1 is a very powerful issue that looks at the simmering emotion that many veterans of war struggle to contain on a daily basis. Joel Breakstone is a soldier who saw more than more people ever will in their lifetime and those memories still haunt him. Chaykin's dialogue is very believable and reflects a certain trivial aspect of life that Joel is forced to endure. Chaykin's artwork is fantastic and lends a touch of humanity to the work. Midnight of the Soul #1 is a very sobering look at the trials and tribulations those struggling with addiction are forced to contend with on a daily basis.

Midnight of the Soul #1 is in stores now.


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