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Midnight Mass #5

Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2002
By: Ray Tate



"Dark Mother's Midwife"

Writer: John Rozum
Artists: Jesus Saiz(p), Jimmy Palmiotti(i), Kevin Somers(c)
Publisher: DC

While reading Midnight Mass I kept thinking that Julia and Adam Kadmon are good enough to inhabit the pre-Crisis DC universe, but that environment would have killed their effectiveness. Who needs the Kadmons when you after all have the Justice League or Dr. Fate? Without additional heroes, their adventures make sense, and yet their heroism and their adventure-seeking recalls the best of DC comics' silver age updated for the twenty-first century.

There is no denying how different this project is from what you're used to expect from Vertigo. Midnight Mass is action packed and not full of talking heads. It centers on two likable heroes--one of whom kicks serious ass--not two unlikable protagonists or worse antagonists. The presence of a big-budget explosion acts as a double shock because of its rarity to an imprint known for condescending British cynics who spout bad pub-poetry and drink whatever happens to be handy while shouting "bugger" at various Goth nightmares. Because of Jesus Saiz, the explosion also loses none of its thrill just because it's been contained within the panels rather than the screen.

Saiz's semi-realistic style distinguishes Midnight Mass from other comic books featuring costumes and magic users. There's no grit here. The faces are well-scrubbed, and the clothing is stylish. The cars are even shiny, and while the normal colors are muted apart from the explosion for the majority of scenes, Mr. Somers brightens up the proceedings by including a pair of smashing jokes based on I Dream of Jeannie.

John Rozum's story departs from what Vertigo is known for by daring to be funny as well as creepy. The exchanges between Julia and Adam Kadmon while hip-deep in insects are hilarious particularly the husband/wife type humor. In this scene, Mr. Saiz superbly conveys movement with regard to facial expression and enhances the comedy with a dead-on interpretation of Mr. Rozum's direction.

In Midnight Mass there's more than humor and horror. Mr. Rozum conveys positive feelings between the Kadmons. They truly love each other, and you can see this in the certain-death scene which captures their characterization in three speech balloons and three widescreen panels. Julia the pragmatist is ready to give in to her fate. Adam the optimist refuses to accept even when physically unable to deter death. Adam motivates Julia, and Julia reinforces Adam's hope.



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