Skottie Young, writer
Jorge Corona, art
So far in Middlewest, Abel escapes his father’s anger and the tornado that destroyed their home. Along with his comrade, a talking fox, they travel in search of a new home. They received assistance from a wizard named Jeb and settled in with a traveling country carnival. In this issue, Jeb unsuccessfully tries to stop Abel’s father who pursues Abel. He gets word to his sister Maggie who runs the carnival where Abel has landed. Maggie uses her special powers to read Abel’s mind to anticipate the danger he is in from his father. However, Abel gets stuck in his memory of his father causing everyone at the carnival to be at risk
The end of the last issue left me concerned about the direction of this story. Abel was wandering around with a group of strangers at a traveling carnival. This issue is a return to what interests me about this story: Abel’s relationship with his father and how they are similar. The emotional beat of the story is this idea that Abel is running away from the danger his father represents and in the process is running away from himself. The age-old-adage “you can’t run from yourself but I’m going to try” has been employed numerous times in stories for decades. What makes this unique is the combination of this vulnerable, yet resourceful little boy interacting with mystical characters and magic-users, in the backdrop of the Midwest. The threat of tornadoes are real as are the threat of harm from unpacked demons.
The art matches the cartoonish, childish, and fantasy elements of the story. The one part of the visual aesthetic that really worked for me was Abel’s reaction to the deep connection he found with his father in his dream. I won’t spoil the result, but the panels depicting Abel’s transformation are packed with kinetic energy and provide a nice perspective for the reader that captures the emotional center of the story. Another high point comes during the moments when Abel and his new friends grapple with their situation. He is brand new and trying to find out what his place is in the traveling carnival world. The visuals depict the emotional vulnerability of the character nicely.
Overall = 9.5/10
This is a coming of age story, which is emotionally based in the struggles a young boy has with his relationship with his father with magical twists. This story advances the intrigue surrounding the unique powers that the father and son share while advancing the boys growth toward autonomy. I highly recommend this story for fans of Skottie Young and his form of storytelling and those who love fantasy.