Pullbox Reviews: Midnight Task Force #2- Killer on the loose, and a damaged cop

Midnight Task Force #2
Mad Cave Studios
Written by Mark London
Art by Alejandro Giraldo
Letters by Andrew Zea
Available now!

Det. Aiden McCormick is the most accomplished member of the Detroit Police Department. What the DPD doesn’t know is that Aiden is hiding a mental condition, one that forces him to carry the burdens of the past as a constant reminder. Now, he’s been tasked with solving a series of grisly murders occurring throughout Detroit. The clock is ticking and Aiden has seventy-two hours to solve the case. He must act fast, before the killer strikes again…

Aiden McCormick is working his case, tracking a serial killer that leaves some pretty bizarre clues behind. The obvious is the method of violence: he removes the eyes of his victims, partially skins them, and leaves a triangular mark cut into their faces. The less obvious are mysterious metal shavings, left behind with evidence of small explosive charges. Luckily, Aiden doesn’t work alone.

Well, he does work alone, technically and as far as the Detroit PD’s payroll office is concerned. The element that sets Midnight Task Force apart from the typical who-dunnit story is found in the three voices in his head and the corresponding vials Aiden keeps on him at all times. A former member of an elite military unit, trained from childhood to handle the problems no one else can, Det. McCormick still carries his teammates with him. All experts in their respective fields, three members of the five person unit were killed in a still to be revealed operation. Now, Aiden continues to rely on their expertise to keep on solving the unsolvable cases for Detroit PD. The connection between these voices and the vials Aiden carries is still a mystery, as is the identity of the fifth member of the team and Aiden’s personal apprentice.

Midnight Task Force is interesting in its twists on the crime solving genre. While some of narrative seems to take a few jumps here and there, there have been pretty obvious improvements made to the writing just from issue 1 to issue 2. Mark London is still growing as a writer, and appears to be taking the steps he needs to in order to improve his style, particularly in the dialogue (one of the toughest elements of writing to get down).

There might be some uneven character development, but on reading this second issue I’m wondering if there aren’t legitimate reasons for the apparent lapses in that regard. Case in point is Alicia, the executive assistant (I think…) of DPD’s homicide division. At first, she comes across as completely flat, serving no real purpose but provide eye candy and to highlight Aiden’s severe emotional issues… he tends to snap her for no apparent reason, every time she walks into the room. At first, this presented a problem for me, because there are other ways to illustrate that kind of thing without tossing in a throwaway character like this. But then in this second issue, we see Alicia stepping up her game a bit and… ahem… taking charge of Aiden’s boss, Chief Cooper. So is Alicia just an unnecessary placeholder in the story, or does she maybe have more of a role to play and we just haven’t really gotten the whole picture yet? Things that make you go “hmmmmm…”

Aside from the interesting spin on the murder mystery, Midnight Task Force really benefits from the artwork by Alejandro Giraldo. It’s an interesting style that keeps the tone of the story dark and moody, but doesn’t just wash all of the colors down into dull shades of gray. The action moves along well enough, with Aiden’s hand-to-hand combat expert calling out advice in his head as the bad guys swarm.

So far, Midnight Task Force is working on setting itself apart as a comic devoid of super-heroes, relying on a gritty storytelling style that revolves around an extremely damaged and flawed main character. Sure, there are rough spots, and it won’t appeal to everyone… but show me a comic, even an established title from a major publisher, that doesn’t have its problems and does hit the mark for every reader. I’ve seen some of the early works put out by other publishers when they were just trying to get their feet under them.

Mad Cave Studios, like Aiden McCormick, is still getting their footing. They’re putting some new and unique things out there (check out Battle Cats), and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go from here.

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