Mike Carey isn’t Robert A. Heinlein or Milton Friedman (and that’s a blessing in its own way). He belongs more in the Heinlein category—Heinlein, after all, was the earliest among pure science fiction writers (his Stranger in a Strange Land was a sort of walk-up to the beat movement), and Carey is a writer of graphic novels who has, in this columnist’s opinion, never really got his due.
The three gentlemen (Friedman died last year and Heinlein in 1988), however, have something in common. Heinlein and Friedman popularized the statement about there being no such thing as a free lunch, and Carey’s latest work, an ongoing series called Crossing Midnight, is built around the same theme. Gods, Carey’s new work says, are particular about collecting their due.
Carey is the author of the Lucifer series and although this work is comparable to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series (the character of Lucifer was created by Gaiman), it simply hasn’t become the kind of New Age classic the Sandman books have become. This is not easily explained; but then, nor is the popularity of Paulo Coelho or Richard Bach.
Carey has also written a few Hellblazer (Constantine) books, The Furies (another extension from the Sandman books), and Neverwhere (the graphic novel version of Gaiman’s screenplay and novel). He is already a name to be reckoned with among writers of graphic novels and I have a feeling that Crossing Midnight might just take him to the rarefied level that few writers in this genre have been able to reach.
Carey, as anyone who has read the Lucifer books, knows, is an expert of sorts of lesser-known gods (and the Devil, and assorted demons) and their behaviour. Crossing Midnight is about two such kinds of gods from Japanese mythology (again, as readers of Lucifer would have noticed, Carey is a minor expert on the lesser Japanese gods): the kami and the yokai. It is the story of a brother-sister duo whose lives are linked to the lives of the kami and the yokai because their father made a promise to the gods when their mother was pregnant.
It’s the kind of promise people make when they speak to gods: Please take care of this, and I’ll be thankful.
Only, as Carey points out, it isn’t exactly thanks that the concerned member of the kami (Aratsu, lord of the knives) wants in this case.
Around this core of a divine IOU, Carey weaves a tale that includes strands related to the yakuza and growing up in modern-day Japan.
The first book of Crossing Midnight is simply named Cut Here, and as befits a book about a god of knives and a young girl who cannot be hurt by any sharp object, it is replete with blood and dismembered appendages.
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