(Dynamite Entertainment, 2014)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrated by Guiu Vilanova
Colored by Vinivius Andrade
Lettered by Rob Steen
Main Cover by Francesco Francavilla
I have always been a fan of The Twilight Zone. It brings to mind cold winter evenings staying at my grandmother’s house, the smell of popcorn made in a pan on the stove with far more butter than was healthy for me, and so much salt that your lips would be chapped for days afterwards. And being scared, terrified of the smoking man in black and white. Perhaps when I began to watch the X-Files again, so much later in life, it was that almost primal fear of a man smoking a cigarette that made Chris Carter’s version that much more sinister.
But I digress.
Dynamite has re-started the classic TV show in the form of a comic, and issue #2 will hit the stands on Wednesday. Serling made the show a classic by injecting his particular style and sensibilities onto a television screen…how do you follow that up?
First, you hire one of the best writers in comics. J. Michael Straczynski has done it all in the world of entertainment. From writing screenplays and televisions shows, show running, comic books, the man is a jack-of-all-trades, and many would argue, master of most.
Second, you hire top-notch talent like Guiu Vilanova (Dark Shadows and the A-Team) and Vinivius Andrade to handle your pencils and colors respectively. Then you get one of the hottest cover artists (and a personal favorite) in the business to take care of your “shelf appeal”, Francesco Francavilla.
What could go wrong?
This is actually a continuation book; something that doesn’t quite gel with the one-and-done formula that Serling strove for in the series. He was looking for a concise story with a clear moral “lesson”, which usually involved the bad guy getting what he deserved, usually in a matter most foul.
Issue #2 follows Mr. Riley, a.k.a. Trevor Richmond, who chose to run from his responsibilities rather than face them. Literally. He has gone to a company to change everything about himself. Not just his name but also his entire life has been given to someone else in a perfectly Twilight Zone kind of plot twist. At this point in the overall arc, he is regretting his decision, seeing that what he thought was going to happen actually did not. (Surprise.)
Stracyznski has chosen the perfect tone for a tale that bears the Twilight Zone name. It’s the morality tale that Serling would have preferred, and I think that there is a plot twist coming. Plus I can’t tell what it is, which makes it a pleasure to read. Of course that was one of the things that I loved about The Twilight Zone on TV. That it was finished after an hour, a complete story with a (usually) satisfying ending. We’ll have to wait and see what Dynamite’s resident comic veteran has in store, but you can be sure that it will be directly from “a dimension not of sight and sound, but of a mind.”
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.