"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Midnight Nation

Title: Midnight Nation
Author: J.Michael Straczynski

I read this 12-issue comic series last year, after the last issue had been published. Having been previously burned by starting to read a series before it concluded that never did conclude, and because I didn't want any of the details to fade from memory between reading each issue, I wanted to read this series at one time. I spent a Sunday afternoon immersed in this incredibly moving look at the nature of the soul.

This week, I finally got around to buying the collected edition and for people looking for a graphic novel, I can't recommend it more highly. Last night, I was skimming through the collected edition, which features a story that hadn't been part of the original series, and found myself reading the epilogue again. And then went back and read the entire 12th chapter and skimmed earlier sections and was once again overcome with the emotion that had me in tears when I first read this story. JMS is an excellent writer and all his skills are on full display here. Almost as moving was the essay he wrote for this edition which explains how he came to write the story.

David Grey is a police detective who becomes trapped between realms when he has his soul stolen. He's given one year to get it back and must walk from California to New York to reclaim it with a mysterious woman, Laurel, as his guide. The usual comic book elements are here. There are demons and lush illustrations and enough action to satisfy most fanboys and fangirls, but upfront and center is the philosophical debate re: the nature of humanity, the people who fall through the cracks, and the ultimate choice David is forced to make at journey's end. I cried, not out of sadness but out of wonder and the sheer beauty this story held, for the emotional release that comes with resolution after such a long, exhaustive journey, even though it was only on paper.

I don't think you could ask more of a comic than that, or of any book.