Review: Midnight Task Force #1

Midnight Task Force doesn't really feature much of a task force. And this wouldn't be a problem if the central character possessed a fraction of the charisma writer Mark London wants you to think he does. Generally, the writer struggles to grant personality to the book's conversations. Every line spoken feels like it is pushing against every other line, jockeying to establish a tone. And whatever tone is ultimately settled on feels weak, though a bit entertaining. Of particular note are protagonist Aiden's glib, self-absorbed quirks. Aiden is kind of hard to appreciate earnestly. His whole look is a Mid Night Taskforce #1stack of vaguely cyberpunk affectations. There's his long, greasy hair; the rough stubble; his glowing techno-goggles and a long coat; and, of course, a cigar habit. He's moody to the extreme. And the people around him seem to tolerate him because of his apparent skill as an investigator.

Whether or not this is all meant to be funny, I can't say. But much of your enjoyment of Midnight Task Force will come from watching this man stumble his way through social situations while hearing his petulant and grim inner monologue.

The art uses color to great effect, bathing each panel in sugary neon. Shadows creep along every surface. There's some odd perspective errors and questionable framing. Faces and Anatomy are frequently distorted as Alejandro Giraldo grapples with making pages both dynamic and naturalistic. But the artwork's most prominent and aggravating problem is an over-reliance on digital trickery to make up for some fundamental deficiencies. Really Giraldo doesn't need the blurring or pointless chromatic aberration.

It feels like fan fiction, possessing little to distinguish itself beyond the immediately recognizable features of cyberpunk. The one feature that may separate this from the glut of similarly bleak science fiction is Aiden's apparent mental illness. His Holmes-like intuition and power of observation may be gifts from a dark past that lift him above common humans. Or that same past may have broken a brilliant young man and turned him into a necessary, if talented, a social outcast. Or some combination of both? Who can say at this point?

And yet that does not make a book great or good. It makes something passable. Scratch the surface and you'll see a very plain, somewhat successful noir pastiche.

[su_box title="Score: 3/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Midnight Task Force #1 Writer: Mark London Artist: Alejandro Giraldo Publisher: Mad Cave Studios Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing series; Print/Digital