Mythology is the theme for this issue of Midnight Echo, and it’s testament to the editors that the familiar and often overdone folklores are left out in favour of more obscure legends that will thrill, chill and enchant you.
First up it’s ‘Black Peter’ by Martin Livings; an extremely powerful story with issues of race, and hatred thereof, very much at its heart. Beautifully written, with a strong and clear message, this is a great start to the issue.
James A Moore’s ‘Black Train Blues’ tells the story of a mysterious, dark train which begins materialising in the town of Coal Pit, even though the tracks lie unfinished. The town enlists the help of Jonathan Crowley, a man all too aware of worlds beyond our own, and with the assistance of his friend, Slate, they investigate the terrible locomotive and the people vanishing whenever it appears. The result is a fun, action-packed adventure that will leave you wanting more from this supernatural Lone Ranger.
‘Ganesh’ by Talie Helene is the first poem of the issue, and is a nice ode to one of the most widely worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon.
Next up is non-fiction from Tony Vilgotsky, whose informative and well-written piece, ‘Russian Field of Mysteries’, takes us on a brief journey through Slavic folklore, including nods to Baba Yaga, Vodyanoy (The Mermen) and the less villainous Bogatyrs.
‘Little Boy, Little Girl, Lost in the Woods,’ by Mark Patrick Lynch is a great spin on the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel. If the original wasn’t dark enough for you, you’re going to love this grisly alternative.
‘Celluloid Nightmares’ by Mark Smith-Briggs takes a look at how Australia’s mythical beasts are fertile ground for filmmakers, exploring why a real haunted house was chosen for Muirhouse, and why the creators of Bunyip decided to use an aboriginal legend as the basis for their movie.
Kristin Dearborn’s ‘Coffee Rings’ is a story about faeries, but if you want beautiful little creatures, flitting around to harp music, you’re advised to look elsewhere. Dearborn’s writing is mesmerising, and her creatures – very much the antithesis of Tinkerbell – are truly creepy. Top-notch stuff.
Charles Lovecraft continues his exploration of poetry structure by focussing on the art of the Metre in ‘Tartarus’. The column also discusses the poetry of HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. The result is a splendidly informative piece for poets and aspiring wordsmiths everywhere.
JG Faherty’s ‘The Wee Folk’ is a perfect example of why ancient treaties with spear-wielding gremlins should be adhered to. When Hester Tinowyn, a nomadic witch, arrived at Dark Hills with the titular Wee Folk in tow, a pact was made whereby the humans would never hunt them for their gold and magic; in exchange, the Wee Folk would not steal the humans’ food or sour their milk. Somebody, it seems, has broken the pact. Faherty’s use of first-person narration is a nice touch in what is a very accomplished tale.
James A Moore, author of the Serenity Falls trilogy, discusses his favourite authors, what it was like working for Marvel, and why it’s good to swing a battle-axe, occasionally.
In Mark Farrugia’s comic column, ‘Pix and Panels’, Mark interviews Killeroo creator, Darren Close. They discuss the Australian comic industry and the ideas behind the Killeroo comics. The interview is accompanied by some fine Killeroo artwork, and is followed by Farrugia’s own comic, Allure of the Ancients, which features gritty and gory illustrations from Greg Chapman.
‘The Road’ by Amanda J Spedding is like something from Clive Barker’s nightmares, as one woman battles her way through a ravaged city filled with outlandish and sadistic creatures. Spedding writes each grotesque beast as if she’s on a mission to outdo the one that came before it, and succeeds. This is good, visceral fun with a denouement that you’ll do well to predict.
Alan Baxter’s ‘The Fathomed Wreck to See’ delves into the mythology behind those beautiful, yet deadly, creatures known as Sirens. Dylan is slowly drinking himself to death on his boat after the recent loss of his beloved Catelyn. He’s also dying from cancer, so things couldn’t get much worse, though when he meets a beautiful blonde woman on the docks things start to look up. The woman, however, is not what she appears to be, and Dylan soon finds himself in a whole heap of trouble. Baxter’s story is one of love, loss, and rejection, and it’s a beautiful addition to this issue.
‘Black Roads, Dark Highways #4 – Where the Wild Things Were’ by Andrew J McKiernan is an informative and tremendously humorous look at the drop-bear; a vicious creature that mimics the common koala. Not even rubbing vegemite on you will save you from these horrifying beasts. Essentially, drop-bears are fictitious; an example of local lore intended to frighten outsiders and amuse locals, but this humorous insight will almost certainly have you believing.
In ‘The Mythology of Mid-World’, Robin Furth offers a background of The Dark Tower series and its influences (Tolkien, Sergio Leone, a 1985 poem by Robert Browning). This is a must-read for fans of Stephen King’s series, from somebody who knows the Gunslinger’s tale better than anyone.
Jonathan Maberry’s renowned government agent, Joe Ledger, features in the new adventure, ‘Changeling’, and fans of Patient Zero and The King of Plagues are in for a real treat. Ledger is tasked with uncovering a secret project at the Koenig facility, an assignment that leads to the discovery of a super-soldier project and, more frighteningly, an experiment to create shapeshifters. ‘Changeling’ is everything you would want from a Joe Ledger story; action, scares, humour. This is Ledger at his sardonic best, and Jonathan Maberry at his finest.
To finish the issue, artist Mel Gannon discusses why she believes digital art to be more rewarding than traditional. It’s a fitting end to a very strong issue. If you want great fiction, interesting articles, and a humorous tale of mythological marsupials, this is the only place you need to look.
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