Comic Review: The Twilight Zone: 1959

In Comic Books, Dynamite by Regan Lorie2 Comments

So, “The Twilight Zone: 1959,” eh?
I’m not even going to start with any flowery language to try to dress up how I feel about this book—no nostalgic personal story, no frills. I’m just gonna say it: As a huge fan of The Twilight Zone, this book totally pissed me off.
These three words—The Twilight Zone—have a very specific set of connotations: elements of science fiction, mystery, horror. The stories of Ray Bradbury, Jerome Bixby, the great Richard Matheson. A lot to live up to for any film, book or television episode bearing that name. So naturally one would expect Dynamite’s one-shot comic of the same name to meet these criteria, right?
Or not.
It doesn’t matter so much that I don’t care for the clean, modern digital visual aesthetic, which doesn’t really line up with the implications of the “1959” in the title. In the Twilight Zone universe, it’s all about the story. Alas, the comic falls especially short in this area, offering up a trilogy of totally tepid “terror” tales: Tom Peyer’s “Laughing Matter,” examining the troubled business and personal relationship between a father and son; Mark Rahner’s “Initiation,” in which older kids haze a younger neighbor who looks up to them; and “The Comics Code” by John Layman, which attempts to put a clever horror/sci-fi spin on the dangers of reading unsanctioned comics. Peyer’s story reads as though he was assigned the title and forced to tailor an otherwise unrelated story accordingly. Layman’s installment pays a sort of self-aware, tongue-in-cheek tribute to pre-Code comics that is vaguely fun, but not really TZ-worthy in terms of payoff. “Initiation,” the only story whose illustrations mildly evoke the 1950s, rocks a “twist ending” so incredibly mild that I flipped past its final page more than once, convinced there had to be more to it. And that is my greatest complaint, that anything bearing the TZ seal of approval should leave me with that unacceptable feeling of “Wait, that’s IT?”
To put the Twilight Zone name on this book seems like an attempt to upsell a lesser product to fans who deserve much better. I desperately wanted to like it—or at least to not hate it—and no offense to all involved, but it left far, far too much to be desired and just did not live up to Rod Serling standards, period. Pass.

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