Publisher: IDW Publishing
Based on the novel by: Stephen King and Owen King
Adapted by: Rio Youers
Artwork: Alison Sampson
Colours: Triona Tree Farrell
Design & Letters: Christa Meisner
Release Date: 24th June 2020
A virulent sickness spreads across the planet, only seeming to affect women,and causing them to sink into an unnatural sleep, a strange cocoon forming round their heads but leaving them otherwise unharmed. In the small town of Dooling a mysterious woman calling herself Eve walks out of the woods, leaving death and destruction in her wake.
I haven’t read the novel on which this series is based and, full disclosure, have never read any of Owen King’s other works. With that in mind, I had no preconceptions of what to expect from this series other than the fact it comes from the imaginations of father and son team Stephen and Owen King. On pedigree alone this is a series that should be well worth investing your time in. Stephen King does have some previous form in writing comic books and Joe Hill is absolutely a rising star in the industry. That being said, this isn’t an adaptation being produced directly by King or either of his sons but rather by Rio Youers, best known as a fantasy Horror writer in his own right.
Is this a faithful to the original novel? I genuinely couldn’t say but the adaptation that Rio Youers delivers in this first issue certainly feels like a Stephen/Owen King story. The setting, the world building, the character development all feel like they should be in a King novel. As for the story itself, well what we’re given in this first issue is reasonably interesting, and when he’s on form, King’s stories are great at taking global disasters, pandemics, invasions, and bringing them into focus on a microcosm, in this case the town of Dooling. The arrival of Eve very much feels like the arrival of some sort of avatar of either mother nature or the Divine Feminine, but at this point it’s anybody’s guess as to which way this thread of the story will pan out.
As is often the case in Stephen King’s Small Town America, this first issue focuses on the Sheriff and her family, although more character development is given to her husband, the local psychologist attached to the county jail. There are a number of characters that we’re introduced to in issue one, and they all come across as fully realised people. Obviously, we don’t know a lot about them as individuals yet, but King is very good at providing well thought out and developed characters, so I anticipate a lot of development over the coming issues.
The story as a whole is interesting but, for me, there’s nothing ground-breaking or particularly innovative here. Cards on the table, I stopped reading Stephen King some time ago because I found myself being able to reliably predict the plot of his books, and unfortunately, I got to the point where I just felt that stories and characters were being recycled which ultimately led to there being little tension and even fewer scares in his work. This is a collaboration with Owen King so I was really hoping for something new and different, but so far, I’m just not seeing it.
I should point out that this isn’t a direct criticism of Youers’ abilities. Indeed, I have read a couple of his books and found them to be well written horror/thrillers, I just think that the material he has to work with on this occasion just isn’t as good as it could be.
On the other hand, I found the artwork in this issue disappointing throughout and I found it very hard to follow the dialogue as the characters for the most part seemed to be completely devoid of emotion and any kind of dynamism. I don’t want to sound hypercritical, but everything seems very stilted, there’s no flow between panels, and no energy or physical movement, and even the brief and extremely violent entrance of Eve simple doesn’t land with any kind of drama or tension.
In thinking this review through I really tried not to draw parallels with the output coming from Joe Hill at the moment. Ultimately though, with this being an adaptation rather than an original story, it feels like a project which lacks a little in both passion and originality, and ultimately falls flat as a result.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek