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Crossing Midnight #4

Posted: Monday, March 5, 2007
By: Martijn Form



"Cut Here" (Part 1 of 2)

Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Jim Fern (p), Mark Pennington (i), Jose Villarrubia (colors)

Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo


Plot: The Twins are separated. While Kaikou is looking after his mother in the hospital, his sister Toshi gets enslaved by the mysterious samurai dude.

Comments: Jim Fern. What about him? Well, his art doesnít do it for me. Itís too clean and emotionless. I think Mark Pennington has to really work for his money to make all those thin ink lines smooth and damn straight.

Maybe we have to interpret the art in this fashion: The story is set in Japan which is a country which loves minimalist art. Look at there beautiful Zen gardens. Or Zen as a whole. Less is more. I like that kind of philosophy, but it isnít working for Crossing Midnight. In this case less is less, which doesnít make this story come alive for the reader. Postures are plain, even in a splash page with a lot of action. The movements of the characters have no dynamic at all. It all looks like a frozen moment. Itís distracting. Even the colors canít uplift a scene. The first hospital scene is green, green and green again. Every object, every character, which make the panels look even more flat. The compositions and angle are too average to my taste.

There are great books about how to put depth into one's art work. I read an excellent article by Paul Rivoche about the fundamentals on how to create depth in sequential art. It was published in Draw! magazine #5 by TwoMorrows publishing. I think Jim Fern missed that article. Maybe I should email him so he can take a look at it.

Jose Villarrubia isnít capable of using the right colors to create a moody scene. When Toshi Hara is about to be enslaved, a grand drama to my mind, the mysterious samurai and his dark Japanese castle donít provide the eerie atmosphere. Itís all too sweet for this evil man scene. He deserves dark and gritty colors. And what does Villarrubia bring to the table. Blue colors! Which feels more like heaven than hell.

The contrast between our world and an unearthly dimension isnít shown in the artwork. The drawings stay the same as does more importantly the colors. Villarrubia had to change to show his talents, but he didnít.

The tagline from Vertigo promised a dark fantasy, but so far I havenít seen much of that promise.

Mike Careyís dialogue has no real surprises or memorable lines. The plot is developing slowly, and his story ideas are not breaking any boundaries so far, but I will give the creative team the benefit of the doubt and will stick to Crossing Midnight for a couple more issues.



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