Friday, 30 January 2015

The Twilight Zone: Shadow & Substance #1 - Dynamite Entertainment

“Here is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition. And it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.” So began the Late Fifties American television science fiction anthology series by Rod Serling; a cult programme which in 2013 was ranked the fourth greatest drama of all time by the bi-weekly American magazine “TV Guide”.

Encapsulating the popularity and critical success of such a series within the confines of a comic book was always going to be a hard act for “Dynamite Comics” to accomplish but this first issue of “The Twilight Zone: Shadow And Substance” is a competent endeavour which certainly captures some of the suspense and drama of Serling’s screenwriting. Indeed the cover art by Guiu Vilanova, which pays homage to such classic televised episodes such as “To Serve Man” and “Nick Of Time”, really establishes the mood for reading a macabre thriller, or psychological ‘page-turner’ with an unanticipated twist.

Unfortunately Part One of “Stumbling Distance” by Mark Rahner doesn’t manage to quite live up to such grand expectations but certainly begins well enough, complete with spooky narration as nervous novelist William Gaunt arrives at “…a place not listed on any airport arrival or departure boards. [But] The Twilight Zone.” In fact the plot’s premise of the author anxiously arriving back in his hometown for a book signing only to then discover he’s really returned to his actual childhood past, could have been taken straight from the black and white brainchild of Serling.

Sadly the veteran comic book writer can’t ‘pull off’ the perfect imitation however, as his central character takes in his troubled time travelling trip far too readily, swiftly adapting to seeing not only his alcoholic mother but his maladjusted much younger self and interjecting himself into their lives.

Far more disappointing however is the quality of Edu Menna’s pencils, as his interior artwork is woefully inadequate, especially when compared to Vilanova’s inspired front page illustration. Claw-like hands, forced facial features, misshapen limbs and clumsy robotic poses are just some of “The Army Of Darkness” artist’s shortcomings. All of which dishearteningly combine to dull any lasting sense of drama or suspense to the ‘spooky’ storyline.
The variant cover art of "THE TWILIGHT ZONE: SHADOWS & SUBSTANCE" No. 1 by Jonathan Lau

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