The Twilight Zone universe expands a little more this month with the introduction of Twilight Zone #1: Shadow and Substance. But so far, Dynamite’s newest venture feels a little wooden.
The official description from Dynamite:
A successful but deeply troubled writer returns to his home town for a book signing, to find that he’s stepped back in time to encounter his abused and maladjusted younger self. Can he save the boy from the misery coming his way? Should he, when it’s the trials he endured that made him the man he became?
Maybe it’s the fact that the current Twilight Zone series (penned by J. Michael Straczynski) is totally obsessed with time travel is what makes issue #1 of this new off-shoot feel stale, but it certainly doesn’t help. The premise here is simple: a dude named William Gaunt returns to his hometown only to find that he’s (somehow) traveled back in time to the days preceding some terrible mistake he made during his boyhood. The central question put forth by writer Mark Rahner, of course, is what will Gaunt change and what will he leave the same? Sure, Rahner adds some unique elements to what, at first glance, might feel like a standard TZ story — Gaunt can somehow still communicate with his current life via cell phone, and his flat reaction to dipping in and out of the timestream makes one wonder if this is an old game he’s played before. But overall, Rahner struggles in making the reader feel any urgency here. There are moments of interest certainly — Gaunt has some strangely Freudian moments with his mother, and laments huge portions of his shitty childhood — but it still feels like the real joy of this arc is still waiting in the wings. Maybe in the next issue?
Edu Menna has become one of the staple of artists of the new Twilight Zone franchise — and for good reason. Menna’s art is clean, bright, and sharp, with strong panel work and nice splash page images. At times the faces of Menna’s characters feel a little stiff, but overall the art is competent and adds tons to the reading experience.
While the current Twilight Zone arc might take some of the shine off Dynamite’s newest attempt to expand the boundaries of this franchise reboot, time travel is still fun. And depending on where issue #2 of Shadow and Substance goes next, it might be great.