Hi! I’m back, and I’ve got another review to share.
This week, we have Gates of Midnight #1 from Kymera Press. D. Lynn Smith is the writer, Amelia Woo is the artist, Mirana Reveier is the colorist, Nikki Foxrobot on letters, and both D. Lynn Smith and Maggie Field are the editors. They’re all going to get talked about today.
First, let’s go over the things that need going over.
All of the recommendations are based on Prince songs. Adore means buy the book, Beautiful Strange is take it or leave it, and When Doves Cry means don’t buy the book.
All set? Let’s go!
First, the story, before I talk about people and their jobs.
The story is simple: a woman who’s a combat vet, has crashed at her father’s place. He’s a cop. He gets killed in the line of duty by something that tries to come through a “gate,” attacking his attacker with what looks like a large bent fork. (Hey! The writer will call it a knife, but knives don’t have tines.) He loses something that looks like a gem. After his funeral, the daughter is attacked in the home she shared. Then mysterious people talk mysteriously about mysterious things. Then, the creator fills the last few pages awkwardly by showing a couple of process pages.
I’m going to break this down, but I’m going to do it out of order. The things that need to be talked about the least, I’m just going to touch on. The things that need the most discussion will be talked about last.
The coloring: I have absolutely no complaints about it. Most of it is done in what looks like a wash, but there isn’t any softening of the lines in the art. The world seems to be gray, with the only real color being the otherworldly beings from the gates, blood, and a gem. Like I said, I have no complaints at all about the coloring.
I don’t have any real complaints about the lettering. It’s very serviceable, it leads the eye, there aren’t any crossbar I’s where there shouldn’t be, and the balloons are formed well, with the tails generally leading to mouths. My only minor complaint is that sometimes, the tails take on a lightning shape, seemingly to denote a stress such as yelling. I’m not a fan. Visual shorthand only works when everyone is on the same page. I’d have changed that. That’s the only bad thing about the lettering that I can say.
The art… Very, very serviceable. If I were looking for an artist, I’d think about hiring this artist. She doesn’t need a lot of things to take her to the next level. Some wonky anatomy here and there, and there are a couple of things that took me right out of the story, but that could be fixed with a better editor.
One of the things that took me out of the story was the first couple of pages of the story. The daughter is sleeping on the sofa under a blanket, clothes strewn around the place. It looks like she had gone out the night before. Her father calls her name, and then she wakes up and throws a knife at his head.
The knife seems to pass right through his head.
That’s not good storytelling.
The other thing that took me out of the story because of the art is when the cop gets out of his car to chase a thief on foot. The door to the squad car is open, and he’s standing in front of it, about to give chase. Do this: open your car door. The side doesn’t matter. Just open the door, get out of the car, and stand there, facing the front of the car. Do not close the door. Door’s in front of you, right? Now, I want you to move three feet forward. That’s what the artist did. She phased the cop through the door. Took me right out of the story.
The last thing is the knife. The knife has a wicked bend to it, almost like a fork, and like a fork, it has tines. Honestly, it’s the worst design for a knife I’ve ever seen. It makes me want to go munch on Big Bird, that knife/fork is so big. It doesn’t look practical at all. It’s large, it’s got a bend/wave in it that makes it useless for killing things. It’s just bad, and whoever okayed that design should be fired.
The rest of my problems with the art are actually problems with the writing, because some things just don’t make sense.
Now, like I said previously, the woman went to sleep on the couch, and the gown she wore the night before is across the arm of a Lay-Z-Boy, stockings on the floor, other things dropped haphazardly. However, when she gets up, she’s wearing a tank top and shorts. I’m not saying she needs to be sexualized in any way. But she’s going to take off and basically drop her clothes where she stood only to put on a tank top and shorts? That doesn’t sit well with me.
At the funeral, there’s a 21 gun salute. I don’t know what the hell happened there, because the guns look futuristic. They definitely aren’t rifles. And I don’t know what uniform she’s wearing, but it isn’t the New York Fire Department uniform, nor is it a military uniform. (And where’s her hat?) She had a friend who’s also part of the FDNY who was at the funeral, but this friend wore civvies. I’d call that a lack of respect. Actually, I call it bad writing.
Really, there’s an abundance of bad writing and bad editing in this book.
There are times when the dialogue is so heavy-handed that it’s cringeworthy. When she throws the knife at her father’s head, he tells her that she’s safe, she’s in NY, and in her father’s apartment. I felt that like a body blow. It was terrible. And there’s more like it where that came from.
After the funeral, still in whatever uniform she’s wearing, she decides to blow off a little steam by going to the gym and work over the heavy bag. She’s been followed by the mysterious man whom she observed talking with her father the day he died. She asks why he’s following her, he tries weakly to deny it, and she says she’s been trained to observe by the best. I understand what she’s said, but really, it’s hyperbolic to the point of absurdity. That was another body blow.
Then they fight. Hand to hand, no weapons. Somehow, her sleeves are ripped off during the combat, yet at no time does he actually grab her to rip them off.
All of the bad writing and artistic mistakes are the editor’s fault, really. They’re the first, last, and only line of defense the audience has. Given a better editor, this would have been a better book. Given the level of bad writing, I’m wondering what the editor did, if anything, and I’m actually pretty scared to see the original draft of the script, before editing.
This is one of those rare books where the writer didn’t live up to the rest of the creative team. The art team is above mediocre, but the writing is just that. The art raises the writing a bit, but not enough.
The verdict: When Doves Cry.