Comic Picks By The Glick

Mind the Gap vol. 1: Intimate Strangers

October 27, 2012

Way back in February I said (not exactly) that the premise for this series had the potential for mass appeal and that I hoped that it wouldn’t be doomed to an early death because of its title.  “Mind the Gap” not only doesn’t roll of the tongue, it doesn’t give the reader any idea of what the story behind it is about.  In case you were wondering, no it doesn’t take place in or around a construction site.  You’re left wondering what writer Jim McCann was thinking when he came up with it.  After reading the first volume, I can’t say that I like it any more mainly because it takes on a more “punnish” meaning now that I have.  Then again, I’m not sure I have the patience to give this series any more of my time.

Elle Peterssen is one of New York’s young, wealthy, upper-class individuals before she was attacked in a subway and sent into a coma.  Only it’s not your regular coma.  She now finds herself to be nothing more than a spirit in the real world while her mind takes on its own physical dimension.  Thanks to some help from a mysterious person in there who goes by the name of Blake Robert Plangman, Elle is able to get some bearing on her current circumstance.  Though he’s all set up to be the “mysterious guy who knows everything” there’s a nice twist in that her experiences and ability to possess other comatose bodies surprises even him.  However, for her friends, family and caretakers in the real world it turns out that her current state wasn’t a complete accident and that there’s a vast conspiracy around her out to do... something.

That’s right.  “Something.”  Much of “Mind the Gap” is a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma that I would immediately compare to “Lost” if Image weren’t already publishing “Morning Glories.”  For all its flaws, I appreciate it more now that this series has shown how unappealing that kind of storytelling can be when the execution isn’t as sharp.  It’s competent in the sense that the characters are well-established, as are their relationships, and the “done-in-one” story spotlighting the origins of Elle’s boyfriend Dane was engaging.

The title’s problem lies in that conspiracy to do “something.”  It’s so vague and undefined that it’s hard to care about anything that’s going on when the narrative starts to focus on it.  Yes, we know that it revolves around Elle’s newfound abilities, that her family is deeply involved in it, but its goals and purpose are a complete mystery.  Worse still is that the character’s aren’t developed well enough for me to care.  While their place in the story is clear (that’s “well-established”) they’re not particularly lively or interesting with most just here to fill roles.  Elle’s description of her father, mother, and brother would be sad if her one-note characterizations of them wasn’t mirrored in the story.

Though “Morning Glories” may go off the rails at any moment, it at least has the momentum to do so and goodwill from the storytelling so far behind it.  Its characters have more layers of characterization to them, their opponents are clearly identified and suitably nasty, and there’s a sense of scope as well as a general idea about the mystery at the series’ heart.  Nick Spencer also writes much snappier dialogue than McCann.  Just about everything that’s done in “Mind the Gap” is done better in “Morning Glories.”  Except the art, which is the one thing this title really has going for it.  The funny thing is that it comes from Rodin Esquejo who does the covers for “Morning Glories.”  Esquejo showed that he has a real sense of style and composition with his work there, and here we get something like that on nearly every page.  There’s a lot of unusual psychological imagery and settings here, but the man proves capable of rendering all of it, and the real-world stuff in a compelling way.

Esquejo’s work is good enough to make me hope that someday he’ll wind up with material to match his talents.  I realize that this is only the first volume and there’s going to be a lot of setup here, but that doesn’t mean it has to be as unexciting as it is here.  Look at “Saga” for a much better example at how to hit the ground running with a title’s first volume.  Sure, things could turn around with the next volume but I don’t see why I should waste my time with a story like this when I’m getting much the same thing only better somewhere else.

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