March 30, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Bento Review: The Twilight Zone Volume 1

J. Michael Straczynski toys around in Rod Serling's playground.

Comic Bento, for this last monthly box, sent me a pair of trades from Dynamite for The Twilight Zone.  As it is, each trade is a (mostly) self-contained story, so I’m reviewing them separately.

Trevor Richmond is your typical Wall Street sleazeball.  His personal greed led to large scale embezzlement in poor investments for the big brokerage firm he works for, but his boss is so consumed by the unsolved murder of his son that the old man doesn’t notice what Richmond is up to until it is going to be too late.  Richmond knows he’s going to prison for a long time very soon as his deeds are about to catch up to him, and he’s just not a good person to anyone, including a long-suffering girlfriend.  But when Expended Services Limited, led by the mysterious Mr. Wylde, offers a solution, Richmond jumps at it.  Thanks to…whatever it is Expended Services does, Richmond will be transformed literally into a new person right down to his fingerprints, allowing him to disappear.  Sure, he has to give up all his money and not tell anyone, but he won’t be punished for his crimes and that’s good enough for him.

Then in the sort of twist the old Rod Serling TV show did so well, Richmond is shocked to learn someone else has taken his previous identity, and this person seems to be a better man than he ever was, taking responsibility for the financial crimes and being a good boyfriend to Richmond’s abandoned ex.  And that, well, that doesn’t sit well with Richmond who otherwise could just live out the rest of his days in comfortable anonymity.

Writer J. Michael Straczynski does OK here.  The main character obviously deserves whatever happens to him.  The problem here is the series looks to have been intended as three interlocking stories, so some clues and hints (like the murder of the old man’s son) may seem to be connected to Richmond’s story, but really aren’t.  They were intended for a future storyarc, and one scene involving the protagonist in the next one clearly makes more sense in the context of her own story.  No representations of Rod Serling were put into the work, so aside from the opening and closing narration for the story, it doesn’t really feel like much of a Twilight Zone tale.  Still, I liked it for what it was.  7.5 out 10 coffee orders.

NEXT UP:  It’s volume two of this series.

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