How can you dislike a book that features the phrase “pixie scat” in the first few pages? Admit it. You can’t.
From the opening scene, it’s clear the world of Drew Edward Johnson’s Midnight Society is not quite the one we’re used to. A pair of adventurers – dressed like doing their own take on Rocketeer cosplay – track down a cave-dwelling beast with a penchant for shiny things. No, not Gollum. According to the spoor, it’s a pixie, albeit a hideous one.
You know these are adventurers of the proper English sort because they call each other ‘old man’ despite being quite young, and use the word ‘thick’ in liberal quantities. One of the adventurers even wants to take the beastie back with him, no doubt to stuff and put in the British Museum alongside all of the UK’s other illicitly acquired things. The two part on a disagreement over what must be done with the creature and the sequences ends on a shot of a baby pixie that’s about fifty times cuter than the adult version.
Flash forward forty years and we meet the star of the book, Matilda Finn, who looks like an appropriately cool monster hunter in a trenchcoat and perfectly windblown short haircut. She just happens to have a past she cannot remember. It’s all a bit cliché, but who doesn’t love a smart, gorgeous heroine with a mysterious past?
Johnson, best known as an artist on Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman run, makes his Dark Horse debut on the book. No surprise then that the art is so good, easily the best part of the book. The colouring, by Lizzy John, transitions nicely between eras. Colours are brighter in the modern day than dull tones of the prologue.
The writing is shakier but there is potential. The ideas here – a secret society dedicated to investigating supernatural threats, a woman with no memories of the life she used to lead – aren’t exactly new, but the strength of the setting may be enough to support the well-worn concepts.
Johnson drops enough hints of the wider setting – an alternate world in which the British Empire still exists and has its own paranormal investigations division – to make you want to know more. It looks to be a very pulpy take on sci-fi, with mechanical wings, ridiculous helmets and shrinking vests.
The pacing seems a little off for a four-part series, but that could be mostly down to the ending point. The issue ends rather abruptly in the middle of the build-up. It’s a weird spot to leave readers hanging, and whether they want to continue or not will depend entirely on how much they buy into Johnson’s world-building.