Midnight Nation 5
Review by Mike Helba
Midnight Nation is a 12-issue comic book series written by J. Michael Straczynski and published by Top Cow under the Joe's Comics imprint.
Issue 5 of Midnight Nation gives us a glimpse of a possible end to the story.
This is a device that Joe Straczynski enjoys using. However, Midnight Nation does not constrain fate as much as some of Straczynski's other works. In Rising Stars, we are meant to believe that John Simon will be the last Special left alive. In Babylon 5, we know that the fates of Londo and G'Kar will not be avoided. Issue 5 of Midnight Nation, on the other hand, makes it clear that we are only catching a glimpse of a possible future for David Grey. He still has time to escape this path.
The first glimpse of David's fate comes in the form of a nightmare. This nightmare is actually a communication from the leader of the Walkers, whom Arthur called the Other Guy in Issue 2. It is an indoctrination into their beliefs. As with the most insidious propaganda, David thinks he can sense rightness in it.
The second glimpse of his future comes when they encounter a Walker. This poor creature is Laurel's most recent failure. He made it all the way to New York but succumbed to the Other Guy at the last moment.
The Walker's advice to David is to not even try to reclaim his soul. Apparently, whatever the Walker saw when he reached New York was enough to push him completely into the power of the Other Guy. The artwork implies that he witnessed the death of an unidentified victim. Was this an illusion of his wife, whom he later knows is actually safe, or did he see someone else?
The third glimpse of David's future is the beginning of his transformation. The strange tattoo-like markings that adorn the Walkers are beginning to form on David's chest. We know from the flashbacks of Laurel's last companion reaching New York that this pigment change will slowly spread across his body. I don't know if it was my imagination, but I noticed a more subtle change in the artwork. David Grey seemed gaunter in the face and his eyes seemed more tired when compared to previous issues. Gary Frank's wonderful artwork continues to complement Straczynski's writing.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this issue is the developing relationship between David and Laurel. When David challenges her behavior, Laurel confesses that she distances herself from the people she escorts so that she won't become too involved with them. However, by making this admission to David she is opening herself up to becoming emotionally involved with yet another companion. She holds little hope for recovering David's soul. Laurel's job obviously takes a huge emotional toll on her. This resurfaces the question of exactly who or what Laurel is.
Issue 5 is a great progression of the story. Things are beginning to look grim for David. His transformation is beginning, and a Walker himself tells him that he's better off dying. We're left with more mystery about the Other Guy. There's also the question of what exactly pushed Laurel's last companion over the edge.
The synopsis provides a detailed summary of Issue 5. It contains spoilers.