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‘The Midas Flesh Volume 1:’ TPB Review

The Midas Flesh caught me off guard, but in the best of ways. I knew writer and creator Ryan North’s story involved dinosaurs in outer space, and I assumed it also somehow involved an aspect of the King Midas mythology, but that was it.  North is probably most well known as the writer of BOOM! Studios’ insanely popular Adventure Time series, which has created a whole new life at once part of, and apart from, the cartoon. I also was aware that The Midas Flesh was one of BOOM! Studios' first titles from its BOOM! Box imprint, along with the stupendous Lumberjanes. So, perhaps I knew more than I thought I did. But still, the story was a mystery to me, and as it unfurled over the first four issues that make up Volume One, I found myself sucked into a vast intergalactic world, and the harrowing attempt of three outcast friends to set their universe right again.

North’s dialogue has a casualness to it that masks deeper, more serious issues and stakes, until the story reveals them naturally.  And, as the meaning behind the mission bubbles to the surface, it threatens to overwhelm you with its intensity. There is humor throughout, both in North’s writing and in Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb’s art, which has an animated look to it, full of big grins and bright colors. The setting for the majority of these four issues is very simple and contained, as the three friends, Cooper, Fatima, and Joey, aboard the spaceship Prospect, investigate an Earth that is unlike anything we have ever seen before. There has never existed a more deadly planet, and it soon becomes apparent that the friends’ humor is partly there to help offset their incredibly dangerous, self-assigned mission. The way that King Midas fits into all of this is most marvelous, and I will leave that for you to discover on your own.

There are a number of perfectly placed flashbacks that inform the main characters’ individual motivations and reveal the germ of the idea for their mission.  These flashbacks also show, bit by bit, the nature of their enemy and their absolute power. This enemy is not to be trifled with, and yet trifle is exactly what they intend to do, and once all the cards are on the table, you realize just how daunting their challenge, and how ultimate their goal. On top of all of this is a crazy, wonderful science fiction story with fun, unique characters that you find yourself relating to, even though one of them is a dinosaur. There are comical moments and nerve-wracking ones, moments of triumph and moments of doubt, and honest character interaction interwoven amongst epic action. These various elements are balanced beautifully by North, Paroline, and Lamb, and the story moves at an exciting, quick pace, escalating to a fever pitch as the action builds.   And, all of that is exactly why I was caught off guard by The Midas Flesh, and I am certain you will be, too.