The Midas Flesh, vol. 1

Summary: We’ve all heard of The Midas Touch, who better to turn that tale on its head with a heavy dose of Sci-Fi than Adventure Time’s Ryan North?

Fatima and her space crew have decided to return to Earth—a planet completely sectioned off, abandoned, and covered in gold—to find out exactly what happened to this once thriving planet and see if they can use that knowledge against the evil empire that’s tracking them down. As luck would have it, they just landed the most powerful weapon in the universe: some ancient dead guy’s body. We have been having so much fun with writer Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics, To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure) and artist Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline on ADVENTURE TIME that we couldn’t resist the opportunity to publish a new original idea of his. And it is original.

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The Midas Flesh, vol. 1, by Ryan North, Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline 7.5

Phrygia, 2000BC: Not only is life on Earth a miracle, but a second miracle has taken place: King Midas is one day imbued with the power to transform anything he touches to gold. But everything he touches also touches something else and the whole planet is turned to gold, excluding himself – but he dies a horrible death, asphyxiated when even the air turns to particles of gold.

King Midas is the ultimate weapon.

For centuries, this planet has remained a Federation secret, long forgotten by those who had initially found it. Unable to make use of its “weaponry”, they shielded the planet from outside sensors, making it essentially invisible. Then they forgot about it. But a band of outsiders have stumbled upon the data and decide to seek the weapon and destroy the Federation…

And so begins the first volume ‘The Midas Flesh’ by Ryan North, which collects the first four issues of this eight-part mini-series.

I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this. No doubt that I was drawn to it by the cover art when I requested it from the library, but I didn’t read the summary. I never do. So I found it very interesting to discover that it takes place from the rebel/terrorist perspective, that the Federation (whom one might assume are the good guys) are the bad guys here.

But who’s right and who’s wrong in this conflict?

That’s for the readers to ponder.

This is a mature book: at one point, the crew of The Prospect discusses the morality of killing 1000 people versus suicide – considering that most (but not all) of those people are Federation, their avowed enemy, whom they were planning to destroy in the first place. It finds our trio on different sides of the question, but still managing to work together in order to survive.

Moments like that made the book very interesting to read; not everything was cut and dried and nothing was oversimplified. I liked that a lot of questions that I had along the way were immediately resolved by the crew, as though they were on the same wavelength. It shows that North didn’t contrive the events to run smoothly and for everyone to have all the answers all of the time.

I like that.

But it’s still a fantasy book, anchored as it is in nonsensical mythology. If Earth has been turned to gold this whole time, why are there humans elsewhere? I mean, there would be other lifeforms in the universe, but not human replicas – or evolved dinosaurs. And why would there be the same religions anyway, with Fatima looking very much like a Muslim? It doesn’t make sense…

Don’t get me wrong: I’m pleased that one of the characters is Muslim and non-white. I’m all about diversity, I really am. I just can’t fathom how this religion (or a very similar one!) would have developed outside the confines of earthlings’ experiences. So that nagged at me a little bit. Forget the fact that everyone speaks English, too, which just can’t be explained away whatsoever…

But, all in all, ‘The Midas Touch’ was an enjoyable read. It was exciting and unusual enough to be a page-turner, and it displayed enough intelligence and self-awareness to give it more depth than your usual sci-fi comic book. Having said that, I probably wouldn’t be pulled to reading a continuing series, but this is only eight issues total; it’s not a huge investment or gamble.

Who knows… perhaps North will add a few more delightful touches to his finale.

And that could very well be worth checking out.

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