Before even cracking open the first page, I’m tempted to just immediately give The Midas Flesh #1 a 10/10 rating, getting the review out of the way early so that I could later enjoy, without pressure, a comic that would surely earn its perfect score anyway. After all, not only does this comic promise a talking dinosaur in space, but it’s written by Ryan North, whose better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be Dinosaur Comics cemented his reputation as a master of funny, articulate comics (about dinosaurs) years before Adventure Time earned him an Eisner. Even so, his newest project still needs to be read before we can properly answer the question: Is it good?
The Midas Flesh #1 (Boom! Studios)
The dinosaur wears glasses. That is adorable.
The Midas Flesh is an eight issue miniseries, and though I enjoyed this debut issue, it reminded me of why I prefer to wait for limited series’ to be collected in trade before I read them. I’ll try to avoid spoilers as best as I can, but I will say that if you’re familiar with this series’ basic premise (which can be gleaned easily enough by the covers and title alone), it should be noted that the plot doesn’t really get going until relatively late in the issue. The premise is still exciting and ambitious enough to excite readers for future issues, and North does an admirable job of setting up the pieces of this story in an entertaining manner that rarely feels expository, but I can’t help but wonder if this story would have been better told as a single, uninterrupted graphic novel.
Of course, I wouldn’t be so frustrated by the wait for the second issue if I didn’t enjoy the first issue. It’s not as comedic in tone as I’m used to from Ryan North, but it’s not humorless, either, especially with the charming artwork of Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb. I don’t know if The Midas Touch is necessarily an “all-ages” comic, but Paroline and Lamb’s clean lines and simple (but effective) colors would not look out of place in a children’s book. The pages benefit from a refreshing sense of breeziness, but none of the visuals are so geared towards cuteness that they sacrifice the tone of North’s surprisingly earnest sci-fi.
I wish more contemporary writers would realize, as Ryan North apparently does, that “serious” storytelling does not have to mean “dark.” The issue closes out with a portion of an interview with North (originally published on Comics Alliance, as conducted by the ever-delightful Chris Sims), in which he hints that the story will soon bring readers into some rather heady territory, but that same interview reveals, as the issue itself does, that North is the rare kind of writer that is able to successfully take his stories seriously without taking himself too seriously.
There’s barely an ounce of pretension on display here. From ancient kings to futuristic astronauts, each character speaks in a similarly casual, contemporary dialect that somehow manages not to feel anachronistic. Only a handful of characters are introduced in this issue, all differentiated from one another by their mannerisms and verbal nuances. We learn about each character’s relations to each other mostly by the rapport that they build throughout the issue.
Though a large portion of this issue is dedicated to a crucial flashback, readers are initially thrown into the story in medias res. I won’t bother dissecting the benefits of that technique, but it works well here, and I love the fact that this story prominently features a talking space dinosaur, yet nobody else on the spaceship seems to ever acknowledge this. I’m looking forward to learning more about him—as well as everyone else—in due time.
- Charming visuals
- Ambitious yet unpretentious
- Promises exciting future developments
- Too slow for an introductory issue
- Not quite the laugh riot some readers may hope for.
Is It Good?
Fans of Ryan North’s comedic work may be disappointed by the slow-burning science fiction of The Midas Flesh #1, but with its ambitious ideas, snappy dialogue, and delightful artwork, there’s ample reason to believe that patient readers will be rewarded for coming back for the next issue.