In its third issue, “The Midas Flesh” by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb continues its charming blend of comedy and space adventure, but with significantly raised stakes now that our heroes have actually found (and taken!) the Midas finger that killed the planet Earth so long ago. Taking such a powerful weapon does not go unnoticed and our heroes find themselves with even more resistance than they bargained for.
Though the book is easily as much a comedy as it is a space adventure, there’s a shockingly high tension built into the book, thanks to the concept of the Midas finger. Though I laughed, smiled and generally enjoyed myself throughout, I was also anxious from the moment that Fatima took the finger and brought it on board. It seems like a terrible idea, no matter what the circumstances, as the finger is far too powerful a weapon. Just in this issue alone, our heroes come inches from turning themselves to gold when the finger gets dropped. North makes the most of this natural tension and then piles on additional obstacles, but it’s the characters’ personalities that shine through: the way they work together as a team, and the way each of them handles the dangerous situations they find themselves in.
Paroline and Lamb are obviously having fun with visuals. There’s an enthusiasm and energy in their art that is simply infectious. Their characters feel real and it’s impossible, just a few issues in, not to care about them, thanks in large part to the fine cartoonish acting work. When dealing with dinosaurs in ties and glasses next to humans and slug-like creatures, it’s important that a book’s style be effortlessly defined and perfectly consistent, which Paroline and Lamb have done with ease. As a result, the world and characters they’ve created, despite being unusual, are no stretch to imagine working within the same universe. For the most part, Paroline and Lamb handle quieter character work and action based scenes with a cartoonish flair that’s enjoyable and easy to follow. However, one key action scene in this issue — when the heroes use the Midas Finger as a weapon — is actually a bit unclear. It took me a couple reads to fully understand what they were suggesting, which is not ideal. Part of that is a function of the necessary coloring on the second page of the scene, but if they had put a bit more thought into it, I think they could have come up with something a bit clearer.
All in all “The Midas Flesh” is the kind of book I wish there were more of on the stands. It’s smart and funny, it’s aware of itself, but not at the expense of a good story, or characters that feel real and relatable. It’s well plotted and engaging, and perhaps most challenging of all, it straddles that very difficult — and far too rare — place of being suitable and enjoyable for almost any age reader.