The cure for your post-Twilight Zone Marathon withdrawal

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you spent any part of the 72 hours this week getting caught up on the best of The Twilight Zone, courtesy of the Syfy Channel’s annual marathon pilgrimage to the land of Rod Serling, you may find that returning to the real world takes a bit of an effort.  A new comic book series by the critically acclaimed J. Michael Straczynski may help you in your transition.  Dynamite Comics’ Issue #1 of The Twilight Zone is in comic book stores this week, and you’re likely to find it in stock because of low turnouts in stores due to the mid-week holiday.

What does it take to make for a classic tale from The Twilight Zone?  Straczynski’s first issue has the story off to the right start.  He includes a well-concocted Serling-esque introduction.  It’s hard to imagine some of the subjects from the original series being current since they are so far removed from today, but in their initial run each episode dealt with some current political, social, or scientific question.  Issue #1 has the required currency–although anti-Wall Street stories are abundant these days, it’s still a worthy subject and the additional twists make for an intriguing set-up.  Trevor Richmond has taken his company and increased profits well above expectations.  So much so that the feds are sniffing around and Richmond’s methods are soon to be uncovered.

Which brings in the next required element of a good story from the Zone–a non-standard and often magical solution to a problem, often involving futuristic or weird science, that comes with a frightening and unexpected price.  Like something from a Philip K. Dick story, a secret company can wipe Trevor’s troubles away forever, and he can walk away and begin a new life, living comfortably without fear of his past.  It’s an offer he can’t refuse.  But then there’s that price element.  Unlike the original half hour series, Straczynski’s series does not look like it will be single issue stories, as Trevor’s story ends on a cliffhanger to be continued next month.

The artwork by Guiu Vilanova and colorist Vinicius Andrade is modern and not particularly reminiscent of the original TV series, which is probably the right way to go, considering the need to keep the stories current.  Thinking in terms of past efforts to update The Twilight Zone, the 2002 reboot of The Twilight Zone TV series hosted by Forest Whitaker offered up 44 episodes to continue Rod Serling’s unique series for a 21st century audience, and included a great guest cast, including Adrian Pasdar, Jeremy Piven, Shannon Elizabeth, Clifton Collins, Jr., Portia de Rossi, Susanna Thompson, and Amber Tamblyn.  Its settings ran the gamut from a coffee-house art gallery to a ritzy mansion to a suburban gated community to a house on a lake.  It was a much better effort than the 1983 movie, which had the passion but didn’t get the eerie Serling world quite right.

Check out this preview from Dynamite Comics:

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Look for great cover work by Francesco Francavilla.  Issue #1 of The Twilight Zone is in stores now.

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