(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
The Twilight Zone #4. What can I say about this comic, as it hits the stands this week, that I haven’t already said in reviews for the previous three? Dynamite comics is on the forefront of the comic reboot business, and they’re doing it the right way, getting top talent to breathe new vibrant life into books whose rights might otherwise be moldering in a drawer in the basement of some abandoned comic warehouse somewhere.
J. Michael Straczynski (Spider-Man, Thor, frickin’ everything) has captured the essence of Rod Serling, has written a story that feels like a Zone episode, and has paced like the T.V. episodes were.
We return to the ballad of Johnny and Trevor, two men locked in a battle for one life. I’ll recap, so hang with me because this may be a bit confusing. Trevor was a bastard, a man who had swindled his clients out of their money a la Lehman Bros. He got caught and was facing prison time. So he hired a company that would change him, his appearance, his very body, and transfer his consciousness into another man. Trevor was on the verge of getting off Scot free, he had a new body, a new life. And then he saw himself, or rather, the new guy in the Trevor body, on television turning himself in. He saw that there was a possibility for redemption, even though that redemption would be lost on a man like Trevor. (The Johnny-Trevor, meaning…oh you get the idea.) So the rest of the story up until this issue is the old Trevor trying to get his old body back, to renege on the deal he made.
It’s a subtle dance, just the sort of thing that Serling would dream up. The story draws the men closer and closer in an ever-dwindling spiral, so that when they finally come together both are moving at terminal velocity. Straczynski has crafted the story so that the last issue would be the final three minutes of the episode, where Serling sticks the knife in and gives it a little moral twist.
Guiu Vilanova (Raise the Dead, Dark Shadows) really takes the reins in this issue. The story lends itself to a lot of action as the climax approaches, and Vilanova paces it so that it matches what Straczynski has written, amping up the action and movement of his characters until the dramatic end.
Or is it? What do the all-star team of Straczynski and Vilanova have in store for us with the continuation of the series? (Oh…there will be another issue. This one isn’t going anywhere soon.) Mr. J. Michael has the same enviable ability that Serling did of taking a basic trope, i.e. “be careful what you wish for…” and turning it into a fascinating morality tale. They’re able to capture your imagination and hold you spellbound until they decide to let you go…and from the looks of the last page, that won’t be anytime soon, so you might as well jump into the pool now, and pick up Twilight Zone #4.
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.