(Dynamite Entertainment, 2014)
Written by – J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrated by – Guiu Vilanova
Colored by – Vinivius Andrade
Lettered by – Bob Steen
Main Cover by – Francesco Francavilla
*There are going to be spoilers, this is the third issue for crying out loud!
If Rod Serling was going to finger someone to write an ongoing of his legendary Twilight Zone television series other than himself, it may well have been J. Michael Straczynski. Issue 3 of the Dynamite reboot drops Wednesday, and it will have you on edge in a way that Serling would have appreciated.
This is the continuation of the story of two people, Trevor Richmond and Damon Ross, though neither is what they seem. Richmond is at the center of a financial scandal, in the deepest trouble a banker can be in because he misused his clients’ funds, bought bad stock, all to profit himself. At the last second he turned himself in, and in this issue is meeting with his lawyer to discuss how long the trial will take. With the sudden turn around in his legal status he has also become the husband his wife always wanted.
On the other hand we have Damon Ross, poor, wandering the streets, and certain that he is Trevor Richmond.
This is a dichotomy worthy of Serling’s vision, and with the addition of the mysterious ESL (Expedited Services Limited), it completes the Serling-esque feeling with this mysterious corporate evil. ESL does the work that no one else can, by taking one person out of their own body and putting them into another, replacing the original with a donor. Of course ESL is only evil in that it is completely unbiased towards their clients, each and every decision is a business decision, no more no less. In this case, Richmond fled his body, and his life, before he could be brought to justice, and Damon jumped in just in time to turn himself in.
The thing that I find genius about his book is the way that each issue mirrors the pacing of a Serling episode. It’s as if Straczynski were writing this like a script. The first book was the setup, the weirdness that hooks you into the first commercial break. The second builds on the tension, pushing you faster towards the third act, where the tension comes to a head. In this case it’s the inevitable meeting of Ross and Richmond, which ends the book and sets up what I assume will be the final act of this short, if it is indeed a short, with the final confrontation between the two.
Francesco Francavilla is the cover artist for the series, and of course it is a fantastic, vintage-looking cover, and shows why Francavilla is one of the most popular cover artists working right now.
The inside artwork is by Guiu Vilanova (After the Fire, Dark Shadows) is striking, and has a distinct quality to it that makes it feel like the stark black and white that Serling used, even though Vilanova’s work is colored by Vinivius Andrade (Red Sonja, The Spider) There are places where Andrade used monochromatic coloring which helps in that feeling, but the Vilianova inking, with large dark patches and deeply shadowed faces, cements that feeling.
If you have ever found yourself sitting on the couch on New Year’s Day nursing a Cheetos hangover and watching episode upon episode of black and white mystery and marveling at the original smoking man, go out and pick up The Twilight Zone from Dynamite. You’ll see something new and yet amazing familiar, and how people like Straczynski are keeping it firmly where it should be, “in a realm not of sight and sound, but of 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.