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Graphic Novel Review

Vertigo Comics's Crossing Midnight 2: A Map Of Midnight
Magic corrupts. And so does money.

Graphic Novel Review , 28 May 2009 by Eilonvi

Last we left Toshi and Kaikou hara in the first volume of Crossing Midnight, they had just been separated by powers that they had only begun to understand. Toshi was taken by the lord of knives, Aratsu, to serve him in the Kami realm. She went with him unwillingly in order to save her mother. Kaikou was left to wander the urban scapes of the gray world - that is how the Kami call the real world - determined to find and retrieve his sister.

As we reunite with Toshi and Kai again in the second volume of "Crossing Midnight", the story unfolds in many delightfully (yet still bloody) surprising ways.

Toshi Hara does not remember her old life in the gray world - Lord Aratsu had cut off her past and future, using a special and powerful blade. She is known in his court by the name Hasharito, and she remembers no other name. Toshi-Hasharito begins her vigorous and sometimes deadly training as lord Aratsu's servant, and becomes a kami herself, with her own magical powers and tool of work, Uso-Tsuki. Uso-Tsuki is an elegant and gentle pair of scissors who can cut memories and dreams from people's mind, and is also known as the liar, for she (it's a she-scissors-kami-thing) can cheat reality.

While Toshi roams Tokyo by night, running errands for her lord, she is also trying to discover bits about her past. While doing so, she runs into some rather colorfully disturbing and bizarre characters, skillfully depicted in this comic. Such one character would be the Gleaner, one of the death gods. Another would be Mimi-sama, an aging ex-porn star, now a homeless, living in Ueno Park. Mimi is a privileged homeless though, as she is the lady-boss of all girls in the park. It seems that Mimi-sama has her own daemon to fight, literally speaking.

The story alternates between Toshi's adventures and Kai's. Kai also arrives to Tokyo to find Toshi. We learn more about Kai's special power to undo any kind of magic, as he handles his own share of daemons and Kamis and making friends with one special young reward-dating girl (there is more in this volume about the phenomena of reward-dating, in an afterwards column by the writer Mike Carey). Kaikou is really one of the most lovable characters ever. He's a shy teenage boy; in his unselfish and brave way he tries to help the girls in his life.

The seed of tragic outcome is planted in this volume, as we follow Toshi in her struggle to maintain a sense of her old self. Clinging to vague dreams of her old life, she becomes desperate to gain back her memories from Aratsu. The more powerful she grows as Kami, the more weakened are the links to her past human life. Finally, full of hurt caused by the hole in her memories, she agrees to pay the price that lord Aratsu cunningly manipulates her into accepting, and Toshi becomes his assassin. Sad to think that at first, she had refused to kill for her lord.

The art is even more beautiful and fantastic than in the previous volume, since it shifts more into the Kami magical realm. The original, strange and scary characters are depicted in a perfect harmony of colors and clean lines, inspired by Japanese aesthetics; the result is strong and moving visuals. When needed, it gives you eeriness, and when not, it gives you a harmony of colors.

It's obvious that the story was crafted by a very skillful writer. The script is straight forward and easy to follow; nevertheless it uses beautiful language style in a natural way, without trying too hard to be mysterious or archaic. Like the drawings of this comic, the plot addresses fantasy in a mature and refreshing way. It adheres to its own inner logic, and thus creates the utmost reliable story line, which simply feels complete. It is rich in myth and deep characters. This is definetely one comics I really enjoyed.

Crossing Midnight 2: A Map Of Midnight
Crossing Midnight 2: A Map Of Midnight
Comics Info

Crossing Midnight volume 2 collects issues 6-12
Published: February 2008
Language: English
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Pages: 168
Learn more on publisher's site
Writer: Mike Carey
Penciller: Jim Fern, Erik Nguyen
Inker: Mark Pennington, Erik Nguyen
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Todd Klein
Cover: J.H. Williams III

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