We’ve flung a lot of negativity around on Bunglespleen recently (though in our defense we’re still just emerging from the rocky early years of the Hugos), so I thought I would take a moment while we’re between books to direct your attention to something that I believe should be up for a Hugo in 2015, because recommending everything that I love is kind of how I relate to people.
I’m talking about The Midas Flesh, a comic written by Ryan North with art by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, the last issue of which is out today. It’s an eight-part science fiction series about a ragtag trio of misfits out to use the body of King Midas as a weapon against their friendly local totalitarian galactic government. One of them is a dinosaur (yes. A dinosaur). The other two are human women, one of whom wears a hijab. There is so much representation here that I can hardly breathe.
But that wouldn’t matter if the comic itself was bad. It’s not. It’s frighteningly good. If you want to study pacing and story construction, The Midas Flesh would make an excellent primer. In many ways, it’s like an old movie serial where the heroes are left dangling over a precipice or tied to a heap of dynamite at the end of each episode, but just like Raiders of the Lost Ark did, it takes those elements and transmutes them into something wonderful. Every crisis grows organically from what we know of this world and its people; unlike some serials, which are like playing baseball in the dark, every curveball here is thrown by a pitcher you can see.
The dialogue is sharp and funny, but heartbreaking when it needs to be. The characters are distinctive and sympathetic: North puts them through some pretty painful twists, but even while they’re doing desperate, morally ambiguous things, we know exactly where they’re coming from and why they, for instance, just turned a starship full of people to gold. You could make the argument that The Midas Flesh is an extended meditation on the uses and abuses of force. When is it justified? When, if ever, is it necessary? The characters themselves argue about this, but it’s never dull: everyone has their own viewpoint, so instead of a dry philosophical debate, we learn something about the person speaking, and we care even more.
The art is clean and gorgeous, and at least once an issue I find myself just sitting and admiring the use of color. It would be so easy to make this story look bleak and cold; it does, after all, involve the constant risk of death, dismemberment, and planetary destruction. (Spoiler: all of them happen at least once.) But the lines and colors are smooth and warm. This is not a future where everyone oozes cynicism like tar.
And it’s just plain fun.
If you want to check it out, you can go to midasflesh, where they have previews of every issue, or pick it up at your local comics store, which is what I’ll be doing today.
(Note that this isn’t a paid ad or anything; I just really want everyone to read the comic. If I got paid every time I told a person to read/watch/listen to a thing I love, I could buy Google.)
Aw, this is awesome. Glad you liked the book, Jade! :)