Monday, May 7, 2012

MIND THE GAP #1 - A review

Despite blood, fire, death, corporate incompetence, and the utter breakdown of technology (SEE: Previous Blog Post), I was able to get my spoiled little hands on a copy of Mind The Gap #1 last week (the week it was actually *supposed* to hit stands). It actually arrived just an hour or so after I got my copy of Fantastic Four #1 in the mail, and honestly, for a moment there, I was conflicted over which comic I was happier to say I owned!

Written by Jim (Return of the Dapper Men, Necrosha: Dazzler) McCann*, and art by Rodin (Morning Glories) Esquejo and Sonia (X-Force, X-23) Oback; Mind The Gap is long-form fiction, in the same vein as Morning Glories (also from Image...also a book you should be reading), only this time it's an (attempted) murder mystery. McCann takes a page from mystery writers by using this first issue to introduce readers to all of the major characters, and mentions in the text piece at the end of the book, that at least one of these characters is behind the attack that is the impetus of the series.  Apparently at the end of Mind The Gap #1, you know everyone you need to know the what, now as the series progresses, we will discover the "why".

If straight-up 'whodunits' aren't your thing, let me make it clear that there's more going on here than a simple attempted murder and figuring out who did it and why.  There's a supernatural element that at first seems like a way to work the central character into the book as a part of its narrative, but by the last page, you find out  there's a lot more going on here than just exercising creative license...and it quite possibly provides the book a reason for continuing longer than what a murder-mystery s/could without overstaying its welcome.

Artwise, If you're tired of people going on an on about how Batwoman is "the best looking comic on the shelves", then I've got some good news: MIND THE GAP makes Batwoman look like amatuer hour, and barring one of the classic master painters resurrecting and getting into comics, you're not going find a more beautiful looking book from any publisher currently avaialble.  Marvel fans should be familar with Sonia Oback's work, having done work on Uncanny X-Men, X-Force, and the second X-23 mini series from a few years back; and Rodin Esquejo provides the absolutely stunning and lifelike covers of Morning Glories that you may have seen as you all pass it over every month...I read more than a fair share of comics each month, and I honestly can't even point to any other book that's currently being published and is in the same league as Mind The Gap. When  someone told me last week they had heard the art in this book was "lifeless",  I momentarily considered calling the cops because there's no way whoever said that wasn't on drugs...a lot of them.  

What's sure to be a Huge plus in the reaction for this book is the diversity of the cast.  Mind the Gap has at least  10 central characters (maybe more depending on how much of a part "Bobby" and then the assistant play...and whether or not the bearded doctor guy died in his accident...), and the "White Heterosexual Male" seems to be fairly (read: not predominantly) represented.  Esquejo and Oback portray the cast without playing up stereotypes, and McCann manages to introduce them without announcing "hey everybody, look at me, I'm actually showing the real world as more than just a bunch of plain white faces!" Hopefully people take note of this, and the book gets deserved recognition for its cast as well as just its plot and (fantastic) art.  

To be sure, there's a lot of buzz surrounding the new Image books these days...mainly, I suspect, based on people trying to make sure they get their hands on the 'next' Walking Dead or Chew (read: make a huge reurn-on-investment),but the fact that they seem to keep selling out, issue after issue, means that the people buying up all the new #1's like what they're reading and coming back for more, and Mind The Gap is just as quality as Saga, Fatale, or America's Got Powers.  And considering it's 44 pages, for only $2.99, Mind The Gap is a steal. There's absolutely no excuse for passing it up in leiu of any of the stuff that Marvel or DC is throwing your way (especially since the delay that pushed Mind The Gap from May 2 to May 9 made it avoid direct competition with Avengers Vs. X-men and the 'big' New 52 Next Wave debuts). As long as the art team can keep up the pace of a monthly book (or at least every 6 weeks if life starts to get in the way), and McCann can keep the central mystery relevant and interesting without letting the book get LOST in itself (see what I did there kids?  That's some "god I kick ass" level wordplay...), then I see absolutely no reason I won't be returning to this book for (hopefully) years to come.  

I have a lot more to say about this book, but this is a review, and not an analysis, so I'll leave that for later...hopefully I can get that up by Wednesday, after the rest of the rest of the country gets to see this book for themselves.    

*Look, MOST people cite McCann as writing "Hawkeye and Mockingbird", which he did, but he also wrote the only DAZZLER comic to come out in...jesus, like...25 years or so, so let's remember that, okay?  Cool...Thanks!

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