The Twilight Zone from Dynamite and J. Michael Straczynski

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Anyone whose familiar with my reviews should know, by now, that I am a fan of anthology series. Through years of reading publications ranging from EC Comics to Heavy Metal, my love of the one shot storytelling process grew. However, it did not originate in the printed media…..but the televised one. Although “The Twilight Zone” was created 13 years before I was born, nonetheless, it was one of the shows that greatly influenced my tastes in all things “out of the box”. The series, narrated by its creator Rod Serling, was one part science fiction, one part fantasy, and one part morality play. More of a collection of slightly skewed Aesop fables, the series turned the viewer’s notions of race, religion, and politics on their collective ear. The series went on for five seasons and showcased a number of actors (early in their careers) including Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Burt Reynolds, among others. The series also spawned a movie and two televised revivals…..one in 1985 and more recently in 2002. For the third season of the 85 revival, the producers brought on a young writer by the name of J. Michael Straczynski (who would later go on to create the sci-fi series Babylon Five).

And now, with the release of Dynamite Entertainment’s reboot of the classic T.V. series in comic form, Straczynski has once again crossed over….into……  The Twilight Zone #1

The story, written by Straczynski (with a nod to John Frankenheimer’s film Seconds ) revolves around an immoral man by the name of Trevor Richmond. Richmond is a financial advisor at an investment firm who is secretly embezzling money from investors and transferring the funds to his own personal account. Unfortunately for Richmond, federal agents are investigating his various illegal activities and are on the verge of indicting him. In order to avoid eventual incarceration, Richmond schedules a meeting with the mysterious Mr. Wylde. Wylde ( who is well aware of Richmond’s corporate theft ) is the head of an organization that specializes in changing a person’s appearance, identity, and offering them an alternate Life……for a price. The price for Richmond is all of the money he has siphoned from his company, but the reward is an escape from his legal troubles and a guarantee that he’ll want for nothing. He agrees and undergoes the process to alter his appearance. Soon, Trevor Richmond disappears and is replaced with Thomas Riley. However, as anyone who is familiar with the distorted landscape that is the Twilight Zone will tell you, Riley is about to find out that nobody truly “disappears”.

 

I have a major problem with this book right off the bat. It is not with the art ( which is  beautifully illustrated by Guiu Vilanova, who conveys a strong use of perspective and character emotion ). Nor with the writing or the story ( although, like I said, it takes a page from Frankenheimer’s Seconds ). It is the way this issue  ended…..with the words…..

 

     “to be continued”.

 

As far as I’m concerned, that is the book’s most glaring mistake. A Twilight Zone story should be ( like an episode of the T.V. series ) told in a single and uninterrupted reading or viewing. By breaking up the story into two parts, it takes away from the effect that a Twilight Zone story has on the reader ( especially in regards to the franchise’s most famous staple….the “twist ending”). Like the EC Comics of old, the story makes more of an impact when we are fully immersed in it. When one has to wait a month later for the second issue, to find out how the tale ends, the creators run the risk of the reader losing his/ or her interest. Although I love Straczynski’s writing, I disagree with the format of this book. This is not Spiderman or Superman…….this is the Twilight Zone. Straczynski should know that…… and, more importantly……know the difference.

2.5 out of 5, the story is good but wait for the trade if you want a true Twilight Zone experience.

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THE TWILIGHT ZONE #1
J. Michael Straczynski (w) 
Guiu Vilanova (a) 
Francesco Francavilla (c)
FC • 32 pages • $3.99 • Teen+

The Twilight Zone, Issue One: Trevor Richmond is a Wall Street investor who embezzled millions and is about to tank the economy. Again. Desperate to avoid the consequences for his actions, he goes to Expedited Services, Inc., which offers to help him disappear and enjoy a life of leisure in a new life. But what exactly is this new life, how much is freedom worth, and what happens to the old life when someone else shows up to claim it? This is the first installment of three interlocking stories that will push the boundaries of The Twilight Zone into new and uncharted territory, a journey that will travel into the past and the future, into murder and revenge and the sunrise of nuclear Armageddon. From J. Michael Straczynski, Hugo-winning creator of Babylon 5, Thor, Changeling, and World War Z as well, as the 1988 Twilight Zone.

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