Drew Edward Johnson brings us the first installment of his creator-owned, pulp inspired series. Is it good?
The Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Many years ago, two scientists/explorers find a bizarre lifeform inside of a cave. One of them feels that the creature should be left alone. The other wants to claim the discovery (and resulting fame) for himself.
This schism resulted in the pair no longer being BFFs.
Years later, special agent Matilda Finn (who may or may not be a mermaid) is drawn into a missing person case involving the ethics-challenged scientist/explorer from before and his disappearance in Loch Ness. As you might imagine, a supernatural explanation is expected.
Is It Good?
…and that’s it. We get little to no context for how the creatures inside the cave will affect the story, how the missing scientist’s friend will be referenced, or why the man in charge of Finn’s agency prefers to live in a microscopic state (yeah, that was pretty weird).
We can guess, but the plot threads in this story’s opening chapter are tenuous at best. There are also some bizarre story beat decisions (revealing the monster, then jumping back to exposition for a page before having it jump out and attack) that make the narrative feel even more fragmented.
To the story’s credit, it does seem like an interesting concept, albeit one with a lot of standard pulp/monster fiction tropes:
- Scientists arguing over the ethics of how they treat an unknown creature.
- Mankind paying for an unethical scientist’s mistakes.
- A main character with a mysterious past/origin that also involves the person who discovered them as their boss.
Johnson’s artwork is great throughout, but doesn’t quite make up for the problems this one has—particularly the ending, which feels more like an interruption in the story rather than a cliffhanger. The Midnight Society: The Black Lake still shows plenty of potential to be a good series, but the opening chapter does not work well as a single issue.