(Dynamite Entertainment, 2014)
Written by Mark Rahner
Illustrated by Randy Valiente, Jose Malaga, and Edu Menna
Colors by Lisa Moore, Marco Lesko, and Sandra Molina
Letters by Rob Steen
I love an annual. It’s the extra really. The getting of something more than the average. Granted, it always came with a heftier price tag, and perhaps that forced the cancellation of the Cloak and Dagger or Power Pack you were going to buy, but it was always worth it, not just because there was more, but because annuals marked a passage of seasons. They were summer annuals, winter annuals…spectaculars, always at a time when emotions were running high and those extra couple of dollars didn’t seem to matter as much.
Dynamite has reached that point in its Twilight Zone run, where the summer months have afforded their main TZ pen, J. Michael Straczynski, the chance to relax and work on one of his other ten comic projects. It also gives the reins of this series to Mark Rahner, who has added three stories to the TZ canon.
“Takers” follows the story of a senator who thinks that the public dole ought to be done away with. “Not Faire” is the story of a dreamer who wishes for a renaissance of his own, and “The Secret Over-Sharer” details a societal obsession with social media and a personal crusade against it. Each of these tales is entertaining. Each has that “Twilight Zone” kind of twist that we’ve come to expect, and each is a morality tale that binds them to the TZ universe. Rod Serling, if he was doing anything beyond entertaining us, was doing just that, turning the mirror inwards, making us look at our beliefs and ourselves and bringing those core ideas into question. How does the problem look from another perspective? How else could it be solved? Serling was a master of storytelling, and Dynamite keeps that tradition alive with the tales they publish under the Twilight Zone header.
Iniu Villanova gets a break from the art in this issue as well, turning the palette over to three artists, one per tale. Randy Valiente (Army of Darkness, Headlocked), Jose Malaga (Vampirella, The Re-Animator), and Edu Menna (I, Frankenstein, Army of Darkness) all contribute their specific talents to this book, each just different enough to make the tales separate, but still connected in the entire work.
This book works for several reasons, but I think that the last tale, “The Secret Over-Sharer” is best fitted to the theme, in fact, it caught me by surprise as being my favorite of the book. The way the Rahner doles out the story, in little blurbs, much like social media, and the overall affect of the actions of the main character, how outside of the norm they are and how refreshing at the same time, work perfectly.
So, remember folks, it’s annual season. Time to count out that pocket change, mow some lawns, and head down to your comic store. It may be that you have to pass on the complete run of Sleepwalker, but in the end you’ll get a little bit more, because Twilight Zone Annual 2014 lives up to it’s moniker, giving you tales you’ll love even while they make you cringe.
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.