The final Stand mini-series kicks off. Most of us already know the story, but Marvel's adaptation still has much to recommend it.
Credits & Solicit Info:
The Stand: The Night Has Come #1(of 6)
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, based on the novel by Stephen King
Artwork by Mike Perkins and Laura Martin
With the announcement of a new Hollywood adaptation of the novel, interest in Stephen King's The Stand hasn't been as high since Molly Ringwald walked the Earth. It must be said that Harry Potter's David Yates and Steve Kloves have a lot to live up to when it comes to adapting King's book, not only do they have the book itself to contend with, but they also have to face up to Marvel's comic-book version, which is about as perfect an adaptation you will ever see.
Throughout 5 previous mini-series and 25 issues, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Mike Perkins have made the reader relive the world Stephen King created, and perfectly transformed the words into terrifying, gripping images.
This week, the final mini-series of the 31-issue project began, it's the last stand, and it's just as good as we're used too.
Most of us already know the details of The Stand's plot, a super-flu wipes out the majority of the US population, and a group of ragged misfit characters come together to take on Randall Flagg, the Dark Man, the Walking Dude, the ultimate embodiment of Stephen King's conception of evil. This mini begins in the aftermath of a catastrophic event in the Free Zone of Boulder, as 4 heroes begin a long march across America, and two sides prepare for war.
This particular issue does not focus on the walking quartet (or ka-tet, if you're a King nut) of Stu Redman, Larry Underwood, Glen Bateman and Ralph Bretner, but instead on the side of evil, on the side of Randall Flagg, in his fascistic vision of society in Las Vegas. Aguirre-Sacasa shines a lot on some of the more minor characters in the novel, in the Free Zone spies.
One of the best things about The Stand novel and King's writing in general for me is his ability to create compelling characters, even less important characters have depth. This issue focuses on The Judge and Dayna Jurgens, two characters who have done little up until now. But they still seem real in this issue, and their deaths hit you where it matters. In fact, my only real problem with the series is a whole is that I feel that Lloyd Henreid, one of my favourite characters has been given a bit of a short shrift, and is shown as more of a villain than he actually is.
Everything in this issue is perfectly rendered by artist Mike Perkins. I've been raving about his work on this title since #1 of the Captain Trips mini, but it's just astonishing. It's a testament to how good he is (and how good King is at describing characters) that almost everything looks exactly like it does in the reader's head. Fran Goldsmith looks like she stepped out of my brain, so does Larry Underwood, so does Nick Andros, so does Harold Lauder, so does everyone. Most adaptations, no matter how good they are, the characters look different to how they are in the reader's mind (The Hobbits in LOTR look too young! Tyrion Lannister is supposed to be uglier than this! Harry Potter is taller than that!) but not so with The Stand. It's uncanny at times. Perkins is the perfect artist for this book, he captures all of the various elements of this story, the terrible realism of the Judge's mangled face, and then the supernatural element of Flagg's character, and makes it all look part of one universe. The out there stuff in The Stand seems real, and it's all thanks to Perkins.
This is another great issue of The Stand, and the sense of impending confrontation is got across exceptionally well. Even though I already know what's coming, I can't wait to see it visualised by Aguirre-Sacasa and Perkins. The Stand is one of my favourite books, and it's been a real pleasure to re-experience in a new medium. Let's just hope Hollywood can do the book as much justice as Marvel have.
Review by: Niam Suggitt