Mind the Gap #1
Story by Jim McCann
Art by Rodin Esquejo & Sonia Oback
Color / $2.99
Published by Image Comics
Or she was pushed. What matters is that Elle stopped in most ways, but kept on going in others. A tragic misstep on the subway platform or something more sinister? She can’t recall. For now, let’s assume the latter. Assemble the Ten Little Indians. Somewhere in the smoke, Agatha Christie sinks into her armchair, a cunning smile on her face.
Jim McCann sets the stage for an enticing murder mystery with Mind the Gap #1. Well, it’s probably best to call it an attempted murder mystery, though the failing isn’t on his part but that of Elle Peterssen’s would-be killers. We’re not just following Elle’s friends, loved-ones and potential enemies in the material world, but Elle herself in a decidedly immaterial plane. If you’re unfamiliar with the Christie yarn McCann references in the back matter, consider poor Mr. Body from Clue and the full spectrum of suspected killers. We’re introduced to a wide range of potential killers at Elle’s bedside, but what sets this apart from so many whodunits is that none of these people–her parents, brother, friend and boyfriend–display obvious motives for wanting Elle dead. Nothing beyond petty rivalry in any case. And this is mounting to be about something much bigger than that, and not only due to this supposed supernatural thread with our hero wandering through the murk of comatose limbo.
If you found yourself compelled by the pilot to NBC’s Awake or crave the serialized mind-bending of Lost, there’s something lurking just under the surface of this seemingly ordinary slip and fall accident. Often these things are political, and it could very well go that way. Maybe Elle knows or knew something and that something was of the Too Much variety. Maybe it’s more than even that. Maybe it’s less. It’s often less too. We’ve seen these sprawling ensemble mysteries, well, sprawl. Not all of them stick the landing. This one’s off to a good start, with a robust and ambitious opening issue with easter eggs detailed in the back. It feels somewhat interactive. It feels like there’s still much left to be discovered. Part of that is on the page. Part of that is instinct. It’s for you to decide whether Elle’s mystery is worth unraveling. For this reader, it’s come to be an earworm (another inventive motif McCann employs throughout in this meditation on memory, suspicion and observation).
Rodin Esquejo and Sonia Oback supply this whodunit with an expressive cast of characters with wonderful attention to individual styles and behaviors. If there’s any real drawback to Esquejo’s keen attention to detail it’s that some panels feel somewhat stilted, from the occasional face frozen in extreme rage to overtly rendered character introductions which read more as mannequins than dynamic, flesh and blood people. It’s not entirely pervasive however, and the fashions and other detail choices do help differentiate a large cast of characters in the suspect pool. It’s also, ya know, quite pretty.
So, what is it about dead girls? To those who simply can’t wake up? Since time immemorial we’ve been ushering catatonic girls down rabbit holes and over rainbows, pacing the banks of cold gray seas to untangle these girls from their bindings. Who killed Laura Palmer? Who killed Rosie Larsen?
Who framed Roger Rabbit? Gone Baby Gone. The Lady Vanishes. Is it the absence of their vibrancy? A song cut short. A life cut short. The wake of something beautiful. An abrupt end to innocence. The best of these stories pluck not at our heartstrings, but pry into those parts of our brains concerned with notions of guilt and innocence. Sure, Why this girl? Why did it happen to this innocent, unassuming girl? But more importantly, who could possibly want to see this girl come to harm? What else is going on here?
I hazard to think, quite a lot in Elle’s case. I don’t know if I know Elle yet. Or Dane or her family or…there’s a guy in a hoodie with a fake deer that…well, I’m still getting to know all these people. But I don’t think Elle deserves what happened to her. I want to know why someone did or if McCann can ply me with enough information to swap allegiances. Really, I just want to know more.
It’s all about suspicion at this point, but one suspects that Mind the Gap is rich with potential for strange, sophisticated mystery. And who wouldn’t mind a little more of that?
Story: 4 / Art: 4 / Overall: 4
(Out of 5 Stars)