Best Shots Extra: The Stand #1
Stephen King’s The Stand: Captain Trips #1
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art: Mike Perkins
Color: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Lee BermejoPreview here (along with Mike Perkins interview) As we all know, adaptations can be tricky. They can be especially tricky in the case of something that’s so well loved. The Stand has done the adaptation dance once before, being made as it was into a mini-series for ABC television in 1994. That version was generally well-received, scored in the ratings and Emmys, featured some fine performances (notably by Gary Sinise as Stu Redman), and did a decent job of appreciating the scope of the mammoth text. The fact that most fans were generally okay with it is impressive, considering the occasional rocky history of adaptations of King’s work. That said, I think that fans will embrace this new comic version to an equal (or even greater) degree. The first issue of The Stand: Captain Trips does exactly what it needs to do. Keying off of the unfortunate Charlie Campion and three of our more important protagonists (Stu, Frannie Goldsmith, and Larry Underwood), it moves forward with deliberate pacing and a sense of foreboding. Sacasa manages to pull off a fairly incredible feat: he’s very faithful to the dialogue and tone for long-time readers, but makes it all clean, clear, and simple for the uninitiated. What’s great about the opening pages of the comic is the same thing that’s great about the novel. Initially, you don’t realize where The Stand is going to go. The first phase plays off our fears of biological attack and government cover-ups; there’s an almost Michael Crichton quality to it. Marvel knows this, and their branding for the first mini (Captain Trips) explicitly uses the nickname of the spreading disease. This compartmentalized ideal ought to build the suspense and move the reader slowly into the turns to come. In terms of art, this is absolutely spectacular work by Mike Perkins. He brings a fantastic sense of realism and detail to every single scene. His montage detailing Larry Underwood’s swift rise and crash could probably work without any dialogue or captioning at all. Perkins also studiously avoids making any of the characters look like their previous screen antecedents. He does borrow one visual cue from the TV, and it’s a dandy: that recurring shot of the raven. Perkins (and Martin) also deserve high praise for the extremely unnerving thirteenth page, which depicts the ravages of the disease; it’s a skin-crawling gorge-raiser to be sure (and those are big words from me, kids; I’ve worked for Fangoria and The Scream Factory, and that page will turn you white). Knowing that we have miles to go on this one, I still think that it’s safe to say that they’re doing everything right. Whether it’s the opening page with King’s carefully quoted song lyrics, or whether it’s the slow build and rich art, it’s all moving forward with dramatic heft and sinister intent. This one’s a no-brainer for King and Marvel-Dark Tower fans, but I think that the casual or unconverted reader will also find a lot to appreciate.
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