Midnight Mystery Debuts from Alterna

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Midnight Mystery #1

MIDNIGHT MYSTERY combines elements of some of the more understatedly cool detective and supernatural series that have come over the years. The tone is very Raymond Chandler, the art is reminescent of early Darwyn Cooke, and the story is evocative of the best of KOLCHAK, THE NIGHT STALKER and THE X FILES.

Ezekiel "Zeke" King is a private detective of the hard-boiled, no-nonsense variety. He records his cases and thoughts on old-fashioned reel-to-reel tapes, leaving an archive of musings of the greater questions of the universe. As this premiere issue opens, Zeke has been hired by the estate of a former horror movie host to find his long-lost heir. The bulk of the issue is then devoted to who Roland Blackwood -- the actor behind the creepy Count Karloff persona -- truly is and how his life came to be what it was. After that, Zeke does the legwork to find the young man who is Blackwood's illegitimate son, bringing him to the estate to claim that which is now lawfully his.

And that is when things get really weird, just in time for a "Tune in Next Time" cliffhanger right out of a pulp serial. And believe me, you'll want to come back to find out exactly what's going on and how Zeke is going to survive it.

MIDNIGHT MYSTERY is a one-man-show, as Bernie Gonzalez drives both the story and the art (with expert lettering from Wes Locher). It's got the right kind of hook, and it's perfectly paced -- neither getting bogged down in any unnecessary padding and not skipping anything crucial that leaves us wondering what happened between scenes. We'll definitely be back for the rest of this four-issue miniseries.

Alterna Comics, for those not aware, uses the retro paradigm of publishing on newsprint, just like comics were printed when I was growing up. The upshot of this means the looks of the book have a certain nostalgic aesthetic to them, but they also come at a much lower price point. MIDNIGHT MYSTERY #1, like almost all Alterna Comics, is cover-priced at $1.50, something this reviewer hasn't seen since the mid-to-late 1980s. That alone should be reason enough to tempt new readers to give this a try. After that, the story itself will be proof you chose wisely.

4.5 / 5.0