The Midas Flesh, vol. 2

Summary: We’ve all heard of the Midas Touch. You know, the Greek myth about the man who did a number on himself by wishing everything he touched to turn to gold? Well, you haven’t heard everything..

What if everything you touched turned into gold? Joey and her space crew have found King Midas’ body and turned it into the most powerful weapon of all time. With the ability to transform any planet into gold within seconds, the team will find out if they have what it takes to actually put him to use. There will be greed. There will be vengeance. THERE WILL BE GOLD.

The second volume of Ryan North’s (DINOSAUR COMICS, ADVENTURE TIME) debut original print comic book series THE MIDAS FLESH, featuring art by illustration dynamos Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb (ADVENTURE TIME) with an ending that nobody could predict.

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The Midas Flesh, vol. 2, by Ryan North, Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline 7.75

For the concluding volume of ‘The Midas Flesh‘, Joey, Fatima and Cooper find themselves under fire from Federation ships, led by the Carpathia, who have managed to recover part of King Midas thanks to their initial efforts. Now the fate of the galaxy depends on our trio’s ability to outdo the General’s plans for interstellar domination.

I love how this book discusses complex moral quandaries – with Joey, Fatima and Cooper sometimes being at odds on the proper course of action, given the extreme powers of destruction in their hands. These are discussions you don’t frequently find in funny books, so I was really quite pleased that North did so with such maturity.

On the one hand, Fatima’s correct argument is that even they cannot be trusted with such a weapon. But Joey is also correct in saying that their only course of action is neutering the Federation before it’s too late. At first glance, there is no right answer in this scenario, and they have too little time to explore and come up with alternatives.

That’s the beauty of ‘The Midas Flesh’: It serves up a perfectly-measured slice of sci-fi adrenaline, but it always sneaks in a complementary side order of real world ethics to ground the characters and readers. In North’s reality, there is no such thing as mere black and white, good and evil; people make choices for various complex reasons.

This is smart writing.

But I do question some of the science involved, such as only part of Joey’s arm turning to gold and then snapping off (yet not bleeding to death from the injury!), tossing a finger at the Federation homeworld to transmogrify it, …etc. Though the basic science seemed dubious, North presented these situations in ways that made you reflect.

For example, with Joey’s arm, he proposes that Joey would be mature enough to understand her part in the situation, instead of lashing out at Fatima. And for the finger toss, Cooper doesn’t anticipate the possibility that the finger might bounce, provoking a merely partial transformation of the planet, consequently tearing it apart. Literally.

Fascinating stuff.

But there were some limits: the idea that the General would fly Midas’s head into the sun, in order to transform it and provoke violent change, though an interesting idea from a scientific point of view, seemed unlikely – my thought was that he would combust well before getting there, thereby completely nullifying his insidious plans.

I also wonder about the logic at times, like when they agree that it’s easier to go into the Carpathia and get Midas out first – and then pick out the blood later because removing him would leave more room to maneuver. Um… what? It’s definitely more cautious to get the blood out of the way first, though it would take much longer to do.

Of course, not everything and everyone could be logical; we’re talking about people, after all. Case-in-point, the villain, the General, was interesting because he had clearly become mad, and frequently dialogued with Midas’ head, getting advice from it. It was both absurd and disturbing because it meant that he was capable of anything.

He was a very real danger.

The ending gets a little bit trippy, and injects with gods, the meaning of life and a reboot into the mix. It was all very confusing to me, not abstract enough yet not clear-cut enough. I’m not sure if North was trying to go for a more accessible ending than ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘, but it at least felt inspired by it. Sadly, it really didn’t work for me.

Still, though ‘The Midas Touch’ isn’t always perfect, and it’s often a bit grim, it’s always fascinating. I look forward to reading North’s other works.

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