Midnight Task Force by Mad Cave Studios is a story that takes ideas from the science fiction and noir genres and blends them to create a comic featuring a grizzled, lone wolf detective with a dark past, solving difficult crimes in a slightly futuristic city. Is this combination enough to make the comic good, though? Now that’s the real mystery. Read how I solve this question below!
Midnight Task Force features the main anti-hero, Aidan McCormick, a self-proclaimed genius detective, attempting to solve a pattern of murders where all signs point to a serial killer. It’s evident from the side characters that Aidan is genuinely deserving of his genius detective title, as they point out for the reader that he has solved many complex cases in his time. Aidan as a character is not a nice guy and is very much deserving of the title “anti-hero.” As the comic progresses, we’re shown a display of his investigative prowess at a press conference for a child kidnapping, as he solves it in a few pages without any issue. Immediately after, the comic returns to the main arc involving the serial killings, pretty much having the kidnapping act as an intro to Aidan’s skill. During his meeting with the city mayor Aiden’s opinion of others is shown to be quite low, as he informs the mayor that they should look at the case from a different angle. They simply scoff at the idea of the killer being something more than a human, with his internal retort of labelling them as Neanderthals. I can’t blame Aiden for being so narcissistic as his past reveals he, and many others, had no childhood. Raised to be a member of a special task force, due to their genius, Aiden and his team had solved many crimes until it all went wrong, and Aiden was the only member left. This disaster somehow allowed him to absorb the intelligence of his other team members, causing him to become some sort of mega genius. The issue ends on a few words from his now “alternate” geniuses and the issue is over, leaving the mystery to build for the next issue.
The story felt like it was full of clichés, from the grizzled detective who’s a genius but doesn’t like people, to being the only main character who can truly understand what’s happening, yet despite this stilted creativity the comic is still very fun to read. In fact, I enjoyed it thoroughly. The comic does a good job of building up the mystery of the murders, with its opening scene of the third murder being committed, and further reinforces the mystery when it’s apparent Aiden can’t immediately solve the case like he did with the kidnapping. I hope that in further issues we are shown more of Aiden’s background. Though right now he’s a pretty shallow character I believe he could be given a lot of depth. It would be pretty refreshing for the comic to delve into the loss of his comrades and the weight of his genius, perhaps in relation to him showing signs of PTSD.
This is a truly beautiful art style; the colours have an almost hypnotic tone reminiscent of the same colours and style used in the painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. I would honestly not be surprised if this was an intentional choice for the artwork. The choice of framing his other geniuses with a different colour makes for easy understanding of who’s talking when Aiden is the only character in the panel, and the bright stand-out colours used for the vials and Aiden’s detective goggles are a nice little touch, adding a bit of variety into the art. The art is a well-crafted piece of work with a lot of talent behind it.