The two big Steves have new comic book work coming out this month. I am of course referring to the most popular Horror novelist of our time, Stephen King and the most popular Horror comics writer of our time, Steve Niles. Both books have a lot to offer for fans of either writer.
This week, I am going to review STEPHEN KING'S: THE STAND - CAPTAIN TRIPS issue one, which is part of a five issue miniseries that deals with the very beginning of King’s epic novel, The Stand. The novel of The Stand is over a thousand pages long, so the editorial staff at Marvel comics made the wise decision to break it down into multiple Mini-series. These first five issues will deal with the spreading of the super flu known as “Captain Trips”, which eventually kills off the majority of humanity.
I have never read the novel of The Stand, but I thoroughly enjoyed the made for TV miniseries that was on ABC in 1994. CAPTAIN TRIPS took me right back to that experience. It even has a similar beginning. The lyrics for Blue Oyster Cult’s song ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ which played during the opening credits of the television miniseries, are written across the first page of the comic.
In issue one, we are introduced to three of the main characters: Frannie, Stu Redman, and Larry Underwood. The issue firmly establishes both the frame of mind and the problems that each of these characters will face, in addition to the fact that the Apocalypse is right around the corner. Stu takes note of the sickness that seems to be spreading around his hometown of Arnette, Texas. Frannie admits to her poet boyfriend, Jesse, that she is pregnant, and yet she rejects his offer to get married. Larry returns to see his mother in New York, to escape his rock star lifestyle that was brought on by the success of his hit single “Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?”
While each character is interesting, the most powerful part of the book is watching the super flu begin to spread. A green mucus-filled sneeze never looked more terrifying. There is an image that takes up an entire page, that shows a dead mother, sprawled across a car seat, cradling her dead infant. Both are pale and bloated, their eyes rolled back in their heads, mucus dripping off their dead skin. Artist, Mike Perkins, did not pull any punches.
CAPTAIN TRIPS was not scripted by King, this time around. It was adapted into comic form by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who has written other Marvel Comics, such as SENSATIONAL SPIDERMAN and was also one of the writers for the HBO show “Big Love”. He is following in the tradition of INCREDIBLE HULK writer, Peter David, who developed a comic book prequel for King’s Magnum Opus, The Dark Tower. That story, THE GUNSLINGER BORN, had tremendous sales and also earned a large amount of critical acclaim. If the story in CAPTAIN TRIPS is to retain the same level of quality for the next five issues, then Marvel is looking at another Stephen King-inspired hit on their hands.