By Patrick Wolf
The first volume of this popular webseries is finally coming to print, and you can now buy a digital copy for a low as $5 dollars. As it stands, while this series does have some minor pacing and suspense issues, it’s still a fun, sci-fi adventure that’ll keep you coming back. I’d recommend this book to any enthusiast of young adult fiction, and I’d certainly advise all preexisting fans to visit the Kickstarter page and give Michelle Stanford your support. As for anyone new to this series, you can read the first volume for free on the Tapas and topwebcomics platforms.
Centralia 2050 takes place in the not-too-distant-future and features a young couple’s search for a missing girl. Unfortunately, Centralia’s a city that’s run by an insidious corporation known as ‘Lumico,' and it’s not the sort of organization that tolerates its citizens poking around the past. To make matters worse, genetically modified people keep disappearing, and our heroes just happen to be ‘genmod’s’ as well. Can Midori and Grey find the missing girl or will their efforts vanish like so many other citizens of Centralia?
So far, this is a charming mystery story that sports a pair of lovable characters within the backdrop of a future dystopia. While Stanford’s rendition of this world-gone-wrong is interesting in itself, by far the most enjoyable aspects of this webseries are the characters. Midori’s sweet, clueless demeanor contrasts nicely with Grey’s serious, somber attitude, and her fits of capriciousness and anxiety serve to humanize her even more. If you were on the fence about starting this series, I’d recommend it just for the characters alone.
Another aspect I love about this franchise is the artwork. Stanford never spares a detail, and the mixture between classic western and manga influences works well in complimenting the characters and their subsequent tropes. You can tell Stanford puts a lot of work into each panel and it really shows. Unfortunately, since she works alone (she’s the writer, penciler, inker, letterer, etc.), the interior pages aren’t colored, which isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s too bad since the pages she does color are spectacular.
The only thing that frustrated me about this series was the pacing. We’re over 100 pages into the story, and nothing has really happened yet. Most of the plot consists of Grey and Midori arguing about whether they should give up or not, and the rest is composed of a set of minor adventures that don’t really reveal any significant clues: We still don’t know who Weiss is; we still don’t know her relationship to Midori, and we still don’t know why she keeps finding Midori and then running away. I’m sure we’ll eventually get our answers, but I would’ve liked to have had at least some major clues unraveled by this point.
Another element that irked me was the fact that this series could’ve used more suspense. At no time during this book did I believe Grey and Midori were in any real danger. Technically, they’ve only had one run-in with Lumico, and since then this supposedly evil company hasn’t done anything to bother them. In fact, Grey and Midori have had more run-ins with Lumico’s enemies, ‘The Switch,' than with the alleged bad guys. To top it off, the kid they’re searching for—the one who’s supposed to be in terrible danger doesn’t seem to be in any danger at all. And, if she is, she’s the strangest kidnapping victim I’ve ever seen. Who’s ever heard of a missing girl that can voluntarily leave her prison, go to places where she thinks her loved ones will find her, wait for them, find them, call them out, and then run away? Personally, if I were Midori, I’d probably just get a job.
With these minor criticisms in mind, Centralia 2050 is still a wonderful series and certainly will be enjoyed by teenagers and young adults alike. While it does have some pacing and suspense issues, the characters are lovable enough to make this series worthwhile. Michelle Stanford has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for the first volume Centralia 2050, and I’m confident she’ll reach her goal easily. The series is very popular on the Tapas and Topwebcomics platforms, and as long as Stanford keeps writing compelling characters like Midori and Grey, people will keep coming back for more.
Centralia 2050 vol. 1
Creator: Michelle Stanford