Skottie Young writer
Jorge Corona, art
Jean-Francois Beaulieu, colors
Nate Peikos of Blambot, letters
Middlewest, going back to issue one, is about a boy and his father. The father is self-absorbed, cruel, and angry. Abel runs away after one of his father’s fits of rage. Ultimately, Abel is running to find a different way of being – to break away from his father’s anger. The father follows, at a distance. The question that lingered throughout is whether this will be a redemption story or a tragedy. In this issue we get that question answered. Abel and his father confront each other, Abel’s friends at the work farm are nearby watching, and the story ends with a long conversation between the two in human form.
The opening panels show father and son in the form of tornadoes tucked in a large storm. Abel’s friends, Bobby and the other workers, watch in anticipation. Jebediah and Maggie provide support, expert reflections, narrating the scene, providing meaning when needed most. Their presence represents the proximal connection parents and adults would ideally have with children. Letting them experience the moment, make mistakes, but always feel our support and love.
Bobby, Abel’s best friend, waits with tears in his eyes to see if Abel will break the cycle of anger and destruction. Every hero needs a witness. Someone who understands, is connected, invested, and experiencing the pain with us. Bobby is this character.
The art is amazing – the large storms have both kinetic realism and a childlike larger than life feeling. The storms in the opening panels capture, visually, the immense motions Abel is holding and unleashing at his father. Corona’s art has been a highlight of this entire series. The whimsical feel and throw back to the 1930’s visual aesthetic makes this feel both magical and lived in.
The story resolves itself with a father and son conversation, which takes up over 10 pages of the book. It’s not a nursery rhyme ending. Abel still has emotions he’s got to let work their way out. The father expresses his true heart, which is what makes this fulfilling. As parents and adults one of the most important and needed stances we must take is to acknowledge our mistakes and make amends.
The ending is emotional but straight forward. Some may feel a let down because the story is concluded in this issue. I found myself missing the magic of the traveling carnival and the adventure of the open plains, which occurred in the middle of this 18-issue story. However, for me the ending was enjoyable and provided a satisfying resolution of the main storyline. Overall this is a 10/10