"The Twilight Zone: 1959" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Written by Tom Peyer, Mark Rahner, and John Layman
Illustrated by Randy Valiente and Colton Worley
Colored by Salvatore Aiala Studos
2016, 48 Pages, $5.99
Comic released on February 17th, 2016
Is there any dispute to The Twilight Zone being one of the greatest TV shows of all time? That's something that every race, creed, and religion can agree upon, right? There's something special about those twists and turns the stories take. It stands to reason that this format could translate into comics fairly easily. Dynamite Entertainment has released a new one-shot including three short stories with those familiar twist endings, all featuring someone getting what they deserve and all All of them are set in 1959, the year The Twilight Zone premiered.
Of the three tales collected in The Twilight Zone: 1959, the third entitled “The Comics Code” takes the cake. Written by John Layman and illustrated by [UNKNOWN] with colors by Salvatore Aiala Studos, the story depicts a fictional version of Fredric Wertham, the psychiatrist that almost single-handedly took down the comic book industry in the 1950s. In this case, it's Richard Fredrickson who is rallying against funny books, but he gets rather greedy in his crusade. Looking to make some extra cash, he puts his name on a new special line of comic books he's personally approved. Sales are great and he's raking in the cash. Unfortunately, as is the case when you're in The Twilight Zone, all is not what it seems.
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The twist here is pretty great. The creative team lays it all out in just a few panels before jumping into a breathtaking double-page spread that reveals everything in gorgeous detail. The artist did a great job here. I'm trying not to describe it, as I don't want to spoil the ending. It's one of those moments where even your imagination can't do the terror justice.
There are some pretty dark themes running through the other two stories in this one-shot. The first, “Laughing Matter”, has a mean boss rampaging against every one of his employees, including his own son, before he ultimately gets what's coming to him. By the time that comes around, you want something really horrible to happen to the man and it's pretty rough. It's certainly not something you'd see in current storylines, as it's more of a lesson learned instead of throwing him off a building or something.
Randy Valiente's artwork on “Laughing Matter” has a cartoony style to it. Every panel looks like it's in a round room. No two angles are pointing the same direction. Even the doors and windows have a curve to them. This ends up working perfectly for the finale, however it left something to be desired in the buildup.
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I also want to give it up for Jonathan Lau's awesome cover. It's a great shot that's pretty damn creepy, featuring a subway car filled with skeletons as a young man walks casually by in the foreground. Of course, he's dressed in present day clothes, so he'd be rather out of place in 1959, but I'm willing to forgive that considering how good the cover looks.
The Twilight Zone: 1959 perfectly captures the tone of the original show. You half expect Rod Serling to step out from the gutters of the page to handle the outro of each story. “The Comics Code” is a clear standout and definitely something that any fan of comic history should check out, if for nothing else than to see an imitation of Fredric Wertham get what he deserved in life.