Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Mike Carey & Jim Fern - Crossing Midnight: Cut Here

By Leroy Douresseaux
July 10, 2007 - 10:58

Thanks to for the image.

Created by acclaimed writer Mike Carey (Hellblazer, X-Men) and penciller Jim Fern (Fables), Crossing Midnight is a recent fantasy comic book series from DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint.  The new trade paperback, Crossing Midnight: Cut Here, collects the first five issues of the series.

Crossing Midnight is set in Nagasaki, Japan and focuses on twins – brother Kaikou “Kai” Hara and his sister Toshi.  Their births crossed midnight.  Kai was born a minute before midnight, and Toshi, several minutes afterwards.  As they grow, strange incidents occasionally occur in their lives.  The strangest is when Toshi eventually discovers that nothing with an edge or point can harm her: knives bend or snap rather than break her skin.

When the twins are high school students, a stranger suddenly appears in Toshi’s room one night.  Calling himself Aratsu, he demands Toshi’s servitude to him to pay a debt Aratsu claims the twin’s father, Yasuo Hara, owes him.  This self-proclaimed Master of Swords controls all weapons with blades, edges, and points, and he really, really, really hates having someone refuse his demands.

As Toshi gradually falls under Aratsu’s sway, Kai takes it upon himself to save her and his family (Yasuo has some serious on-the-job issues).  He finds a deadly kindred spirit in another supernatural figure, Nidoru (who claims that she presides over “the needle and the pin”), apparently a rival of Aratsu’s.  In the meantime, Kai’s focus on his sister has left him blind to his own supernatural troubles.

THE LOWDOWN:  While Crossing Midnight does have similarities to Japanese horror comics and even captures some of the darker aspects of filmmaker Hayao Miyazki’s work (in particularly Spirited Away), this Vertigo series finds its conflicts deeply rooted in both the human world and the various realities of Japanese folklore, myth, and the supernatural.

Mike Carey and Jim Fern initially engage the reader by first establishing the Haras as an ordinary nuclear family with the same conflicts both inside and outside the family unit.  Carey is clever in that he knows we all secretly wonder what goes on behind closed doors, so he takes us inside this family and joins us to them.  When the supernatural horrors enter their lives, the reader has already invested in the family, in particularly Toshi and Kai, so the reader is in as deep as the Haras are.  Carey builds Crossing Midnight’s narrative not just on Japanese folklore, but upon the kind of basic dramatic conflict and character motivation that are universal in storytelling.  This is essentially one character vs. another, and who wants what and what is he or she willing to do to get it… real world stuff but with magic and the supernatural added (see the fiction of Stephen King).

Jim Fern’s art (well inked by Mark Pennington) is not spectacular and showy, but to a good cause.  Visually, he translates Carey’s script into a recognizable world, which is important because fantasy without any real world context is mostly empty.  Fern invites us into an idealized ordinary reality and the reader gets comfortable, so that when trouble starts for the twins, the reader also feels it strongly.  For instance, that extends the threat of Aratsu’s knives off the page onto the reader.

FOR READERS OF:  If Neil Gaiman’s name were on this instead of Mike Carey’s and not a word of the story were changed, Crossing Midnight would be a big hit.  Carey and Fern’s effort to research and execute this concept into an attractive comic book series is evident in each panel, and I frankly couldn’t stop reading.



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