MY?TERY SOCIETY #1 by Steve Niles and Fiona Staples – A Book Review

I usually don’t review single-issue comic books, but when Hometown Comics contacted me and offered me an advanced copy of MY?TERY SOCIETY in promotion of a visit from author Steve Niles, I counted myself very lucky and jumped at the opportunity.

If you’re a comic book lover, you know Steve Niles.  If you’re not a comic book lover, you probably know Steve Niles because he created the source material for the movie 30 Days of Night.  He’s something of a legend in the business, and excels at the horrific, grotesque, and provocative – but all in a good way.

MY?TERY SOCIETY, as of the first issue, is … well … something of a mystery.  The story features a husband and wife team, Nick and Anastasia, who proactively investigate the arcane, classified, and weird.  They’re trying to build a society, but to what purpose we don’t know.

The story begins with Nick Hammond being transferred to prison, and when he stops to field questions from reporters, he recounts a tale that we presume led to his current situation.  In the flashback, he is raiding Area 51while being navigated by his wife back home.  Soon, he meets with complications that threaten to keep him from his quarry just as his wife must deal with an invader in their home.  Since we’re talking about a periodical publication, we are, of course, left with a cliff-hanger ending meant to entice the reader to return for issue number two.

Niles has created a quirky, fun husband and wife team with snappy banter and plenty of action.  So far, the book reads as less horror and more adventure with some touches of the occult.  I’m most interested in what I can only assume will be a future storyline when Anastasia mentions that someone has stolen Edgar Allan Poe’s skull and that they must track it down.  How cool is that idea?  I was disheartened, though, by the use of Area 51.  It seems as though Area 51 is thrown into the mix whenever this type of story arises, and I could have done without it.  If Niles had called it “Area 52,” perhaps I would have been more forgiving.

The art, by the way, was fantastic.  I’ve never heard of Fiona Staples, but she is a real talent whose style meshes perfectly with Niles’ story.  Since there is no inker or colorist listed, I can only assume Staples pulled triple-duty, which makes her all the more impressive.  I’m a color guy, and hers are gorgeous.  She somehow manages to give us a wide array of colors but keeps them all subdued and dark, which, as I said, compliments the story very well.

So while there are touches of the familiar (Area 51), Niles and Staples have delivered a dynamic first issue that firmly establishes the characters, provides a lot of action, and offers plenty of reasons to come back for more.

And if you happen to live near Edwardsville, IL, be sure to drop by Hometown Comics on 110 East Vandalia from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on June 8th.  Steve Niles will be there signing his work and conversing with fans in promotion of MY?TERY SOCIETY!  Call Doug at 618.655.0707 for more information or visit:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=114894441885082&index=1

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