(Image Comics, 2013) - Reviewed by J.G. Butler
Writer: Jim McCann
Artist: Rodin Esquejo
Colors: Arif Prianto & Beny Maulana of STELLAR Labs
I was first drawn to the Mind The Gap series by the cover of issue #4. A young woman in a red hood looking toward an unknown future with a black hooded ‘Big Bad Wolf’ over her shoulder, ready to strike. At the time I had been reading mostly superhero comics and was looking for something different and I had heard a lot of good things about this title. So I picked up all the back issues and dove right in.
Mind The Gap is a supernatural mystery thriller with soap opera drama in comic book form. A young woman named Elle was beaten and left for dead in a New York subway station by an unknown man in a dark hooded sweat jacket. As she is rushed to the hospital she slips into a coma. Later Elle finds herself in a state of limbo with amnesia. A gentleman spirit named Bobby guilds her though the “Garden” (limbo), the inside of her mind (where they try to unlock her memories) and floating around the hospital grounds. Elle’s attack is shrouded deep in conspiracy and seems to be just one part of a much larger scheme orchestrated by some of the people closest to her, who may also have ties to the occult. But Elle’s headstrong (and possibly psychic) best friend Jo Wilson, Antoinette Wallace (a dedicated detective) and a defiantly determined Doctor Geller are on the case.
Early on Elle discovers that unlike the other “vegetables” in the Garden, she can possess near dead bodies whose spirits have moved on to the Great Beyond. With the very little life left in these hosts Elle reaches out to Jo for help while struggling to make sense of her memories, now jumbled together with the ones left behind by the prior occupant. Word gets around the Garden and a young girl (Katie) seeks her out and offers Elle the use of her body if she promises to help solve Katie’s murder and bring her family peace.
Which brings us to issue #8. Elle and Jo have brought closure to Katie’s murder and are now rushing back to the hospital as the girl’s body quickly fades. Where Dr. Geller informs Elle’s very rich and powerful parents that she believes their daughter’s brain waves are transmitting to other coma victims minds, and are able to take control of them. They don’t take it well, to say the least. Meanwhile Elle and Jo say goodbye for now as Katie’s body dies, during which Nurse Frankie Burton (aide to Dr. Geller and firm believer of Elle’s story) comes in to show his support and enlighten them as to why he thinks this is happening to her. Afterward, Jo gets a message from Elle’s boyfriend who is incarcerated as a suspect in Elle’s assault. Elle returns to the Garden, where she is quickly shrouded by spirits desperate for her help. Before she can get a word out Bobby appears and shushes her. Thus leads into next issue, which will be ‘silent’ and featuring guest artist Dan McDaid.
This series really had me for the first five or six issues. The story was original but familiar enough that it was easy to accept what was happening. The characters are all just normal people with an over abundance of self righteousness brought on by their well-to-do family’s wealth and status. You just loved to hate them. I especially enjoyed the “Filling The Gap” wrap-up pages at the end of each issue by Jim McCann, where he would point out a few helpful clues to look for throughout the series. He also took time out to show off some panel work he really thought was awesome, and just let the readers know how excited he was about working on this title. It really gave the whole thing a very personal feeling, like this was something he really loved sharing with us. Since issue six these pages stop appearing and Sonia Oback started to phase out as co-artist/colorist. At this point I feel this title started to lose it’s magic. Characters seem to aimlessly yell at one another over and over again as the story creeps along slower and slower with each issue. I no longer care about any of these pretentiously pigheaded characters and find myself dreading each page of this thinly stretched story.
On top of that the art has never been one of the highlights of this title for me. This comic is filled with panel after panel of lifeless figures with wooden faces posed in sterile blank walled environments, and not only in scenes set in limbo. Rodin Esquejo’s very minimalist style of bordering panels is lazy at times, leaving the colorist to fill in most of the detail. This worked, but has been unbearable since Beny Maulana and Arif Prianto took over the coloring. People – and especially heads of hair – seems ‘Photoshopped’ into each bleached out panel.
In short, I am very sad to say that with this story losing so much momentum and having no end in sight I will be dropping this title. I hope Jim McCann will soon find a better project to feel as passionate about as he did the early issues of Mind The Gap. And hopefully Rodin Esquejo will put more effort into his line work and backgrounds in future comics.
Follow J.G. Butler on Twitter: @Floor0272