Paperback 304 pages (February 28, 2005)
Publisher: Image Comics
Whilst fan-boys and girls worldwide weep for the demise of JMS’s planned Babylon 5 movie, they can console themselves with the fact that he writes kick-ass comics on an almost daily basis. A while back, he wrote this, and despite being a JMS fan-boy myself and a rabid poster on www.b5tv.com, I’ve only just got around to picking it up. After that admission, I’d accept most of the criticisms people sometimes level at JMS. His dialogue can suffer from exposition, stuffiness and clich?at times. These are all true here at times, but it really does not matter. Some accuse him of heavy moralising, but in this book he manages to walk a fine grey line in his exploration of many social, psychological and religious themes.
Midnight Nation is said by many to be the best of JMS’s work. I think and hope that is still yet to come, but until we get a B5 movie, they might just be right. Homicide cop David Grey is investigating a series of grisly murders. He encounters a demonic being who takes his soul, and wakes up in hospital in a different state. He falls into a world between, of those who have been ignored or isolated form society that are preyed on by ‘the men’, insidious beings clad in black bin bags.
David has one year to get his soul back, involving a walk across America’s underworld whilst his inner demons begin to grow within him. His angelic companion Laurel is a great foil to his growing darkness, but also tragic character in her own right. The lead story is well told and suitably disturbing, but it’s the experiences of the people who have ‘faded away’ that they meet along the way that makes the read so worth while, and moves it head ands shoulders above similar material. JMS really goes into his personal experiences in this book, from failed relationships to nocturnal wonderings.
The lines from Gary Frank really keep the story moving, especially when JMS’s writing get a little off-track in some of the later dialogues between the leads. His expressions are superb. The inking is also great, if at times a little computerised. If I have one criticism, its that the chicks are all too hot, even the slightly disturbed looking ones. This is great, but does take the edge off the realism, which this book otherwise has in spades.
A must read for any serious fan of the writer or the genre.