Review - Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1

"That was it! Just like you said! You said it would be here--and there it is!"

Treasure hunters are always conflicted about their finds. Some want to keep them as trophies, whereas others are adamant that relics belong in a museum. Amazing finds inspire even more amazing reactions, even if those actions have consequences as they do in Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written and illustrated by Drew Edward Johnson, colored by Lizzy John and lettered by Steve Dutro.

Forty years ago, England’s greatest adventurers cast aside their friendship, making a choice that would come to haunt humanity. Now, secret agent Matilda Finn will face the consequences of that choice as she aids in a frantic rescue operation at Scotland’s Loch Ness, where something terrible is waiting to draw her into the fight of her life.

Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 opens with a fairy-tale bang, as two explorers are seeking out a mythical creature using scientific means of doing so. The exchange between the two explorers is an interesting one, as it hinges on the concept that scientists should be observers and not interfere with naturally occurring behaviors. There's an old-school, science-fiction feel to the book as well, with Johnson affording the characters a creative mix of technology and science in their explorations. The somewhat fanciful opening immediately sets a pulp tone for the story that is furthered by the introduction of Matilda and her mission. In tackling one of history's most storied fables, Matilda is forced to reconcile her ability as an investigator with the things that go bump in the night.

One of the main reasons that the book feels the way it does is Johnson's artistic approach, which imbues the panels with plenty of detail. Each character boasts an intricate level of attention that focuses on the smallest of features in a way that makes them feel more alive. Panels all seem to be filled with action; for instance, there's one panel where a group is going over a plan and every person is doing some unique action. There's plenty of action throughout the book as well, which Johnson renders cleanly and in a way that always seems to surprise the reader. John does a great job on colors, imbuing the book with an abundance of darker shading to accent the seemingly mysterious nature of the characters and their professions.

Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 is a fun first issue that revels in its pulp nature. Matilda is tasked with investigating something known the world over and--despite her relative experience--will still be forced to adapt. Johnson's plot is evenly presented and the dialogue delves into some rather interesting issues when it comes to scientific observation. Further, Johnson successfully blends together reality and fantasy in a way that would make Mike Mignola and creators in the Hellboy universe proud. Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 is a strong first issue that blends archaeologist sensibilities with hunting mythical creatures.

Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 is in stores May 20.