Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Ted Adams
Artist: Mark Torres
Release Date: 29th July 2015
Ted Adams reimagines Richard Matheson’s symbolic tale of one man’s struggles with the pressures of expectation on men in the early post-WWII period; or at least the perceived notion of masculinity with its attendant position and status in both the household and society at large.
In an extremely brief setup (literally four panels), we learn that Scott Carey has been exposed to a radioactive sea spray whilst sunbathing on a yacht. The action quickly shifts to a basement scene where Scott, who is now 5/7ths of an inch, is being pursued by a black widow spider. From there the narrative swings between his struggles in the basement, and the psychological battle with his diminishing masculinity and its effect on his relationship with his wife and those around him.
From a pacing perspective, the abrupt beginning and equally brusque climax make the central portion of the book appear incredibly drawn out. Scott’s strained relationship with his wife makes up the bulk of the issue, his anger with the situation manifesting in despairing rage and fits of self-loathing, character traits that cast him as pitifully weak in the face of adversity. Clearly, this is the crux of his problem; his inability to deal with the situation and the larger symbolic idea of perceived manhood, but the dialogue between the couple is clichéd and stiff making it difficult to engage with on a serious level. The problem extends to the sequences in the basement where the lack of inner monologue gives the dialogue the same trite feel.
On the art side, things fare much better, especially the corking retro movie style cover by interior artist Mark Torres, who truly captures the imagination with a wonderfully composed image. Story-wise there are a few scene transitions and action sequences that miss their mark, and the sombre, melancholy colours do little to evoke excitement during the basement scenes in particular, but these are minor criticisms of a solid job overall.
It’s easy to be sold on the premise of this story from the cover art alone, but as an adaptation it’s a little thin on substance and perhaps doesn’t translate so well to the comic medium.