Middlewest: Image's American Fantasy Comic Epic, Explained

Written by Skottie Young (I Hate Fairyland) and illustrated by Jorge Corona (Big Trouble in Little China), Middlewest is a bizarrely whimsical and painfully potent story about a boy going on an adventure across the untamed mystical stretch of farmlands in an attempt to control the anger (and power) inside of him.

The series centers around Abel, a tween living in a strangely surreal and mystical version of the American midwest. The densely natural land stretches beyond the horizon, with countless small towns and farms living disconnected lives from each other. There are hints of magical things and titanic robots that used to roam the land, but their remains have long  been grown over by nature. Abel lives in a small trailer park in the middle of the farmlands with his father Dale, an angry,  fierce man who screams at the drop of a dime. Dale has been separated from his wife for years, raising an increasingly embittered Abel.

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As the series begins, Abel is working as the paperboy for his small trailer park town. He does his work alongside a wild and nameless Fox that openly speaks with him and operates as something of a spirit guide for the young man. After skipping out of work one day with his friends and enraging his father, Abel is shocked to watch his Dad turn into a furious tornado. The twister destroys everything in its path, with Abel and the Fox barely making it aboard a passing train to escape. However, the tornado stings Abel with a shock of light, making his heart glow from within his chest and spreading a strange symbol across his chest.

Desperate to find answers, Abel eventually meets Jeb, a mysterious old man who brings Abel to his makeshift home made from scrap. Abel unleashes an outburst of power from the mark on his chest when his father comes up in conversation prompting Jeb to fear the destruction the power could have if Abel isn't freed of it. Abel sets off on a quest to find a way to cure himself, Fox accompanying him as he makes his across the farmlands. Meanwhile, Dale is able to take back his human form and, fearing what's happened to Abel in the chaos, heads off to find him. However, his rage isn't subsided, and he's shown still transforming when he loses control of his temper.

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Abel eventually ends up at Hurst Family Amazing Amusements, a carnival maintained by in-part by the kid-genius Bobby and her robotic friend, Wrench. However, the longer they quest, the further the markings on Abel's chest spread. When he's fully enraged, he even begins to transform into a living tornado, like his father. He's calmed down in part by the mysterious Maggie, a former sideshow magic act that Jeb intended to reach out to for help. Taken in by the carnival, Abel finds a new home.

But it can't keep his powers from amplifying, with his father searching for him all the while. It's not long before Abel and Fox are back on their journeys across the mysterious farmlands, coming across demonic squirrels, forest tribes and cannibalistic cutthroats. If he wants any hope of understanding his powers, Abel will have to learn more about his past, his family, and the truth of the mysterious "heart of the storm" that beats within his chest.

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