(Dynamite Entertainment, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Artwork by Guiu Vilanova
Color Artwork by Vinicius Andrade
Lettering by Rob Steen
J. Michael Straczynski returns to one of the titles he cut his comic book teeth on, The Twilight Zone. With his history in television writing, this title works perfectly with his talents and provides an ideal vehicle for his very fast paced style of storytelling. The specific format employed by The Twilight Zone television show lends itself readily to sequential storytelling, more accurately to comic books; it’s a pretty standard, by the numbers format for telling short, horror or shocking tales with a set-up leading to the big reveal, building lots of suspense and anticipation along the way. This is a textbook technique but it is so satisfying and entertaining that in the hands of a talented writer like JMS, it can’t miss. However, JMS strays from the usual single issue format and continues this first story into the second issue. I didn’t mind this because the narrative is so engrossing and paced so well that I look forward to a multi-issue arc.
This issue begins with a voice-over style introduction that you can almost hear in Rod Serling’s characteristic deadpan voice describing the journey we are about to undertake into The Twilight Zone. Trevor Richmond is an unhappy and unscrupulous businessman. Much like a character from the Madmen television series, he wears fine suits, has multiple lovers, he’s handsome but still he is unhappy. Enter Mr. Wylde and his identity changing organization, for a price he can change anyone into someone else however that price is heavier than some may be inclined to pay. In Trevor Richmond’s case the price is all of his misbegotten gains save a meager amount to live out his remaining days in blissful anonymity. Richmond agrees to the stipulations including surgical procedures, experimental drugs and a degree of physical pain that would give most pause to reconsider but he is firm in his resolve to be a new man in the truest sense.
Straczynski enlivens the story with some fantastic dialogue; his characterizations are realistic and very believable. Richmond never really wins your sympathy which is par for the course in a Twilight Zone anti-hero. Sympathy is not what we are expected to feel for this character, in fact if we can relate to him in anyway other than with morbid curiosity we might have some problems of our own that need addressing, still JMS does an excellent job of fleshing this character out and bringing him to life. I am a huge fan of the original television series and this book captures the sensibilities and nuances of that landmark series down to the white knuckle suspense and intriguing characterization. This is pure character-driven drama, intense and macabre as it comes.
Visually Guiu Vilanova’s artwork is solid and professional. He suitably captures the tone of the narrative without being overly flashy. This subject matter doesn’t call for lots of technical wizardry and flamboyant artwork, just journeyman level, solid fundamentals and that’s exactly what Vilanova delivers. Vinicius Andrade’s colors bump up the visual punch just a bit and Francesco Francavilla provides a stereotypically fabulous cover but clearly the star of this book is JMS and his brilliant storytelling.
Overall this is an extremely satisfying first issue, hitting all the right notes and delivering a solid story. It may not be the most visually dynamic book on the racks this week but for an utterly entertaining read this one comes in near the top (3.75/5). If you didn’t pick it up, give it a try next week. It’s worth the cover price for sure. So, until next time, see you at the come book store.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629