In Review: Midnight Vista #1

A solid sci-fi tale that should be taken up by all readers.

The covers: This is new for AfterShock, I believe. There are seven different covers to pick up for this issue, and you don’t have to abduct them from a store — you can pay for them. The Regular cover is by Juan Doe and features young Oliver Flores in the front center. His hands are up and raised to his sides in surprise and his head is tilted slightly back with his eyes wide and his mouth agape in shock. Behind him is the silhouette of a man in off-yellow with the features of his face in hot pink. A classic saucer is over this man sending wobbly red waves down either side of the cover. Doe has created another winning frontpiece. The first Variant cover is by Ryan Kincaid and has grown up Oliver behind some breaking glass. He looks grim with his long hair, some growth on his chin, and his head wrapped in a bandage. The glass that hasn’t fully broken on the right side of the image shows a classical Grey, the large headed and large black eyed extraterrestrial. Given what’s happened to Oliver in this issue, I can understand why he looks so angry. Janet E. Lee is credited with a creating a Variant cover, but I couldn’t find an image of it online. James C. Mulligan’s Variant has young Oliver in the lower center looking at something the reader cannot see. Behind him is a beautiful violet night sky full of stars and a large cloud. Within the cloud a classic flying saucer can be seen, as well as the head of a Grey. Nice illustration that looks more like a movie poster than a comic book cover. There’s no text on this. The Rahzzah Variant is an incredible looking cover with a Grey up close and personal in the reader’s face. The alien has one long finger in front of its mouth, as if it were shushing the reader. Scary and cool! Bryan Silverbrax, like Lee, created a Variant cover, but I wasn’t able to find an image of it. The final Variant is by Karl Waller & Larry Watts. This features the two Men in Black that appear in this issue’s final pages. The reader is looking down at them and their faces don’t look right. They’re atop several violet photographs of Oliver’s abduction and return. The photos are outlined in mustard. The background is a blue star field. Very freaky and very appropriate for this book. Overall grades: Regular A, Kincaid Variant A, Mulligan Variant A-, Rahzzah Variant A+, and Waller Variant A

The story: 2002 in Albuquerque, Oliver Flores is rapidly turning channels on the television to find something to watch. Or he’s turning channels to drown out the conversation his mother is having with his father over the phone. The parents are divorced and his dad wants to move to Phoenix, which would disrupt custody of little Oliver. Mom’s boyfriend Nomar comes into the living room and asks the boy if he’d like to get ice cream. What kid would say no? As they make their way home, the car radio goes out, comes back on with Art Bell (a great reference if ever there was one!), and then a piercing noise causes Nomar to hit the brakes. The light they’re under intensifies, until they — and the car’s lights — blow out. A blinding light appears above them and their car begins to levitate. Cut to the present day and a naked man is in the middle of the street during the daytime. It’s Oliver. He touches his face, looks at his hands, and smiles. He turns to see his house. He goes to front door and is about to ring the bell when someone rips open from inside. I liked the realism that writer Eliot Rahal brought to Oliver’s return. Everything that happens to him on his street, Midnight Vista, is what one would expect if a naked man suddenly appeared. The conversation and revelation on 13 is great and I loved the responses from the two characters. Detective Aldo Martinez is then introduced and what he’s told rattles him. 16 and 17 are pretty shocking stuff. I’ve read and seen countless stories that have this type of scene, but none so graphic as this and that’s what makes them memorable. The conversation on 20 and 21 and is great and the last page teases incoming trouble for Oliver. This was an enjoyable start to this tale and I’ve very interested to see where this is going. Overall grade: A

The art: Clara Meath is the artist on this book and she does an exceptionally good job with the characters. The books opens by focusing on the setting: first an empty highway that shows the desert sky, its mountains, and the highway. This transitions to the street and Oliver’s house. The final panel on the page is almost stalker-like as the front door is shown and a studio audience can be heard. The second page shows mom yelling into the phone and then moves to Oliver, inches from the TV, rapidly changing channels. Boyfriends are often antagonists in tales of single moms and their children, so it was welcome to see Nomar’s face and Oliver’s reaction at the top of the third page: I believed they cared for each other. The large panel on the page is simplistic, but gets the setting across. I love the point of view that starts Page 4, foreshadowing action on 8. Meath has got a terrific handle on how to use black on a page to create tone, making the pair’s journey home visually interesting. The reactions from the pair atop 6 is perfect — if the sound wasn’t there I would be able to recognize how they were in pain. You can’t go wrong with a scared child in the dark, and Meath makes Oliver completely sympathetic in the fourth panel on 7. Pages 8 and 9 are and aren’t a double-paged spread. It’s a clever visual to show a transition and grown up Oliver looks terrific. When things go chaotic on 11, notice how Meath tilts the action making events seem even more frantic. I love the smoke trail that tops 13; it just looks cool. The reaction from the pair at the bottom of the page communicates a lot with their looks at one another. Martinez’s introduction makes him look like a man of action and also a man of great emotion. 16 and 17 are the shocking pages: they’re graphic and really put Oliver through the wringer. The first panel on 18 is perfection. The close-up that ends the penultimate page is also excellent for all that it communicates. The last page introduces two new characters that are familiar, but different enough in their design to be intriguing. I’m definitely ready to see more from Meath. Overall grade: A

The colors: Alien abduction television shows and films never use bright colors. They are almost entirely in the dark, with streaks of light to disguise the effects and salvage the budget. Colorist Mark Englert doesn’t have to worry about that, making this one of the clearest and frightening use of colors in an alien abduction comic. The first page has Albuquerque at dusk and it’s beautiful. I like the how the SSHK and KLIK sounds are in luminescent colors that mirror the device that’s being used. The drive home with Nomar is colored beautifully, yet with plenty of black to make things foreboding. The intense yellows on 6 and 8 are terrific. In fact, the contrast between 8 and 9 is outstanding. I especially like how well done Oliver’s skin is colored — he looks great! I love the dead lawn. Notice how red transitions between 12 and 13. Clever. The memorable coloring appears on 16 and 17. WOW! Pinks, reds, and violets make the horror intensify. I love how red glows on Oliver at the start of 18. Englert is doing a great job on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Taylor Esposito creates scene settings, transmissions and telepathic speech, sounds, dialogue, signage, yells, weakened speech, and screams. The scene settings establish the date and necessary to confirm for the reader the change in time. They’re not intrusive and get the job down. The transmissions are in italics, giving them a metallic flair. They’re also used on pages 16 and 17, and they, too, could have a metallic flair. I hope this will be explored. The sounds are fun, especially during the abduction. The signage is a little inconsistent; I don’t Meath may have done some. The yells and screams are big, with those on 16 and 17 being appropriately epic. The weakened speech is a great way to show a person’s state. Overall grade: A

The final line: Abduction and its after effects are explored frighteningly from a no longer young boy’s point of view. His flashbacks of the event give some neat insight into his character and I’m looking forward to seeing how others are effected by his return. The final page teases that he may not be back for long. The visuals have outstanding character work, for humans and aliens alike. The colors brilliantly increase the emotion and the horrors. A solid sci-fi tale that should be taken up by all readers. Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Midnight-Vista-1/digital-comic/800817?ref=c2l0ZS9hamF4U2xpZGVyL2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC8zMTUyMA

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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