J. Michael Stracyzynski and Guiu Villanova adapt the seminal horror series, “The Twilight Zone” into a new comic series! Will it live up to the legendary program? Read below for the twist. Spoilers ahead!
Written by J. Michael Stracyznski
Illustrated by Guiu Villanova
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.
Those are the spoilers. That solicitation there, the huge chunk of text? Yeah that’s the whole plot of “The Twilight Zone” #1. Also did you know that J. Michael Stracynzski did the adaptation for “World War Z”? That explains a lot. Honestly, I have no idea why they’d give out the plot right there in the solicit, since one of the hallmarks of The Twilight Zone has been “the twist.” “To Serve Man,” “Eye of the Beholder,” “Shit, I Should Have Gotten a Second Prescription Like My Optometrist Told Me To!” Episodes like those made “The Twilight Zone” a huge influence on modern storytelling, especially how everyone has to have a twist, and nowhere is that trope more evident than in “The Twilight Zone” #1.
This comic reads like the only requirements for a Twilight Zone story are are “Twist” and “White Guy.” JMS certainly excels with the latter, telling the story of a Wall Street broker whose shady dealings are about to come crashing down on him, so he contracts a mysterious firm that’ll completely change who he is so he can start a new life. Wow. A shady organization? An awful gloating person who thinks that nothing can go wrong? Wow, excuse me as I place my bag of Mentos into this vat of Coca Cola, because surely nothing can go wrong. What’s that? A thing goes wrong? OH GOD THE SODA IS EVERYWHERE!
The whole issue plays like that, with people talking about Wall Street Guy and how he’s going to get away with everything. This story has the foreshadowing of a baby sitting next to a chemical fire. Yes, we know it’s going to go wrong, but the real fun comes from in how wrong it goes, not “this is an awful idea.”
Even worse, the issue is hardly scary. The twist is kind of a surprise (or would be if it weren’t in the solicitation) but it’s hardly mind-blowing. Going beyond that, The Twilight Zone was never just about the twists. They were relevant critiques of society that, frighteningly enough, are still relevant to this day. They’re not scary because of the monsters, but because of the existential horror and fear that fires an accusatory glare at the nature of humanity. Here, the closest thing to critique is how the character straight up tells a guy that Wall Street executives are above the law so shout out to JMS for looking at a newspaper from the past five years. Plus, almost every Twilight Zone character found themselves in their situation by random, they become trapped in a nightmare the way you could if you were to make one false move some night. It’s a reflection of the utter chaos of humanity where literally anyone could have their lives ruined for no good reason. Wall Street Guy? Wall Street Guy asks to have his life change, spends ten minutes cheating on his girlfriends and destroying the economy, and stops just short of simultaneous autoerotic asphyxiation/kitten punching. It’s not scary when bad things happen to this guy, it’s rewarding! The hubris is rightfully crushed and we can all sleep in our beds because this asshole got crushed, rather than never have a good night’s sleep for 15 years because the curtain beyond reality has been raised and you are now fully aware of the cruel fragility of life.Continued below
So yeah, not a very scary story. Also one that doesn’t end, even though Twilight Zone stories are a million times better when they’re one-in-done and not a “series of interconnected stories.” It’s not even The Twilight Zone at that point. In fact I don’t’ know what it is at this point, and neither does Guiu Villanova whose artwork is pretty scary in how static they look but I’m not sure if that’s by accident or a meta tribute to that episode with the mannequins. His scene composition is also pretty freaky, especially the part where Wall Street Guy’s girlfriend walks in on him nailing another broad, turns around, and cries so hard she rapidly ages twenty years, all while he’s still pumping at it. Hey, all of a sudden Wall Street Guy’s pretty relatable. Who here hasn’t done it to the sound of their betrayed loved one posing and crying in the corner?
Haha. New Year’s was crazy.
So, “The Twilight Zone” #1 is a pretty boring, weirdly drawn comic that could get better as more parts of the story come out. Then again, that last part flies in the face of The Twilight Zone’s “One and Done” structure so let’s just call it a bad comic.
Final Verdict: 3.4 – Pass.