Tag Archives: World War II

Midnight Front is Mission Impossible meets Harry Potter

Known primarily for his extensive work with a specific Space Traveling franchises, David Mack takes a creative detour to bring us a shadow war of mystics set during World War II in his novel Midnight Front.

After losing his parents Cade Martin, a magical prodigy with a hidden secret, becomes part of this clandestine group of mystics and learns how to control magic to join the Allies fight against their evil Nazi counterparts during the war.

If you’re not familiar with Mack’s other works he is a pro at entertaining readers, and Midnight Front is no exception. Here he takes the hero’s journey and elevates it into an engaging thrill ride in the shadows of wartime Europe, from the Holocaust to the Invasion of Normandy and the bombing of Dresden, he intertwined his characters into this period of history like master.

The framework that Mack creates for their use of magic, or the Arts as they call it, is intense in its details and he’s one of those writers who isn’t afraid to torture or even kill a character, trust me I know. And the characters are a diverse group that doesn’t come off as two dimensional stereotypes, they’re fleshed out people that deal with the adverse effects of handling magic with smoking and drinking. I love that his characters recognize the need to beat evil but not at the cost of their core, fighting for what’s right.

 

On a personal note, Mack through Midnight Front doesn’t pull any punches with his chapters that take place in the Concentration Camps, at first I was overwhelmed and wondered why so much time was spent at the Camps, but then it occurred to me that was the point, to show the depth of the crime that happened during the war. Midnight Front puts a spotlight on the Nazis, their supporters, the atrocities that they committed and remind us that they are an evil that needs to be fought and eradicated in any time period. He also doesn’t flinch at the homophobia that forced people to hide their orientation, the hypocritical racism of the US and its willingness to acquire power by any means.

If you like magic, military thrillers or historical fiction Midnight Front is the book for you. Available in different formats, Midnight Front is the first book in the Dark Arts series from Tor Books.

 

George Carmona 3rd is an Artist/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, current book lover, and lifelong comic geek who’s been killed off in a Star Trek Book by David Mack. You can find his work at FistFullofArt.com or follow him on twitter at GCarmona3.

 

Advance Review: The Collected The House

In their Comixology Submit (And soon to be published in physical format.)  The House, writer Phillip Sevy, artist Drew Zucker, and colorist Jen Hickman whip up tasty and gory blend of the war and horror genres as Allied soldiers in Luxembourg find themselves in a haunted house while taking a German prisoner of war back to camp. What begins as a sanctuary from a winter storm captured in its all its fury with blistering white space from Zucker and Hickman turns into a Hammer horror haunted house flick. This team of soldiers is used to making a plan, taking orders, and executed it, but it turns all topsy turvy in the primal evil of The House.

Sevy and Zucker set up the almost cosmic stakes of The House in a riveting cold open of mostly silent sequences of The House juxtaposed with the diary of a man named Ethan Wilde, which was discovered in 1976. There’s a montage of panels ranging from prehistoric time to the Middle Ages and finally the 20th Century. The House wisely doesn’t use its World War II setting to tell a simplistic “Allies are good, Nazis are evil” story and goes for a more psychological approach with flashbacks of Allied officers shooting prisoners, and the medic character King continually being wracked by the responsibility for his brother’s automobile accident death. Zucker and Hickman bring a pretty epic and widescreen approach to guilt with pages that simulate a descent into Hell for him. As a medic, King feels a great responsibility to keep the men alive and takes each accidental gunshot wound or death personally.

This is a slight negative, but The House works better as a adrenaline ride thriller than a character piece even though the scenes of characters being haunted by the ghosts of civilians they gunned down are a chilling reminder of how terrible war is. Sevy uses these “big picture” moments sparingly as a kind of raw commentary after an extended chase sequence and as a reminder that even the “good guys” did morally reprehensible things. Most of The House is a roller coaster ride that rarely lets up and even has a few “false endings” like when a group of soldiers think they are back to being stranded in the cold, but then a door suddenly appears, and the tension continues. Its film influences are The Shining (The snow, outbursts violence, and blurred lines between real and supernatural.) and classic haunted house films like The House That Dripped Blood. However, the immersive nature of The House with its page turn reveals and plot structure of ghostly specters eventually evolving into a more solid blood red opponent reminded me of horror video games. The comic starts out as Wolfenstein or possibly Medal of Honor with its more straightforward action and then transforms into classic Resident Evil when it was pure haunted house survival horror for the PS1.

The soldiers’ attempts to get out of “the House” are an exercise in futility as everything from foolhardy shooting up the study or at windows to more sensible using a rope to keep track of their path all fail because this place is pure evil. Sometimes, Phillip Sevy’s plot seems padded to keep the soldiers trapped, but then he and Drew Zucker cook up new terrors like ghosts wandering without a bullet chunk out of their head or feral children that render a grid layout all, but useless. Jen Hickman is always there with the traditional horror reds and black and sometimes an even more unsettling blue tone that she transfers from certain characters’ eyes to their surroundings. It adds that extra freaky factor to Zucker’s choppy figures, ever shifting landscapes, and occasional EC Horror homages like a full page spread featuring an eyeball close-up.

Even though it has a smidgen of spooky worldbuilding, The House is a solid standalone thriller that melds the horror and war genres. Sevy, Zucker, and Hickman turn what is usually the creepy, yet cozy home of horror comic prologues into the antagonist and a kind of conduit that reminds humanity of the worst inside of them. The tone of the comic runs from subtle to bombastic, but all in all, it’s a reminder that comics can be frightening sometimes, and some of the guilt inducing ghouls that Drew Zucker will be seared in my brain for at least a few days.

Story: Phillip Sevy Art: Drew Zucker Colors: Jen Hickman
Story: 7.9 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.1 Recommendation: Buy 

Sucker Productions provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review