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Old 10-17-2009, 07:16 PM
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The Stand (comic)




Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: October 17, 2009

Released by: Marvel Comics
Release date: 2008-Ongoing
MSRP: (Various)
Comic book/Softcover & Hardcover Trades



Clearly I'm on a kick with comics and novels these days. I have always read books and loved comics, though I've drifted from each throughout my life. I drifted from comics as I entered adulthood, but found my way back to them when my own kids starting getting interested in comics. Gone are the days of Superman and Batman for me. These days I'm more interested in the likes of The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, or 28 Days Later by Boom! It's not just comics that I drifted from, however. As I entered adulthood and moved out to California, only to find myself with a 1.5 hour commute each day, I fell in love with the spoken word. I hit my local library and would burn through unabridged audio books each week, including several readings of King's The Stand, as well as countless others. When I moved back to New England and had a much shorter commute to work, I drifted away from reading for a time. Thanks to a great local library and my own renewed interest in reading, I'm once again enjoying the written and spoken world. I'm currently reading Anne Rice's Interview With The Vampire, a novel I have tried to read several times and simply couldn't get into, thus abandoning it each time about a third of the way through. After discovering that my favorite narrator, Frank Muller, passed away last year, I decided a nice tribute to him would be to listen to his recordings of a few of Anne Rice's vampire books.

The Stand is a novel I first read at 13 years old, an impressive feat considering the sheer size and magnitude of it. I have since listened to the audio book several times and have enjoyed each and every time. It's a book that has its flaws, but I truly believe it to be King's best work. The Stand mini-series was featured in my 'Halloween Top 10' picks for 2008, and the book itself was my number one pick for 2009. Picking a book for my 'Top 10' was a first, yet unlikely to be the last. During the discussion that took place about my top 10, I commented that I understood some people just don't like reading. There are a variety of reasons for this. Some people have various forms of ADD and simply can't sit still long enough to enjoy a book. Others simply don't find enjoyment in it for whatever reason. I believe there is magic to be found in the written and spoken word, but I certainly respect each person's decision in regards to reading. Those that don't enjoy reading may find some enjoyment to be found in graphic novels, which brings us to why I'm writing this review to begin with. The comic from Marvel is scheduled to be written in five story arcs and consist of thirty issues. This comic series may not expand upon what's covered in the mini-series, yet I would still argue an alternate visual take on The Stand is something that shouldn't be passed by. Lets take a look at the first two arcs of the series, Captain Tripps and American Nightmares.

The Story

inline Image The series starts off just as both the novel itself and the mini-series begin - with a deadly virus on a military base making its way into the general population due to one officer escaping with his wife and family. The family crashes into a gas station in Arnette Texas that's run by Bill Hapscomb. The family all dies, but not before the virus is passed along to Bill and several of the local 'good ol' boys' that he was talking with inside the station.

In Ongunquit, Maine we are introduced to Frannie Goldsmith, who is breaking the news to her boyfriend that she is pregnant. He wants to get married, but she quickly tells him that she has no desire to marry him. Next we are introduced to Larry Underwood in Brooklyn, New York, whose newest single 'Baby, Can You Did Your Man?' has just topped the charts. Larry's riding the big life but gets in over his head and returns home to his mother in Brooklyn, New York looking for a place to stay. And finally, on a lonely stretch of highway we are introduced to a deaf mute named Nick Andros, who is jumped by a group of locals and beaten to within an inch of death.

inline Image With some of the central characters introduced, the story begins to tell of the plague and how it is spread amongst the population. Arnette is quickly quarantined but it's too late; the virus makes its way past the quarantine in a state police officer. In Atlanta at the Center for Disease Control, Stu Redman is under close observation as he is one of the few people from Arnette that seems to be immune to the virus. He is prodded and poked to no end but no one seems to be able to come up with a reason for his immunity. The virus continues to spread across the United States and the entire world. The media dubs the sickness Captain Tripps, a 'super flu' of sorts.

inline Image In Ogunquit, Frannie's parents die of the flu. In Queens, Larry's mother dies. Nick Andros is left as deputy after the sheriff dies and is left to care for those that attacked him, now sitting in the local jail. Stu Redman is transferred to Stovington, Vermont to a center that looks like a prison. He begins to wonder if he will ever be freed. The close of the arc introduces Randall Flagg, also know as the Walking Dude or the Boogeyman. He is a central figure in a battle that is forming between good and evil.

inline Image The second arc in the series is titled American Nightmares and focuses on the central characters and what they plan to do now that they are amongst the minority of the population that survived Captain Tripps. Fran joins up with a neighbor named Harold Lauder and they decide to go to the disease center in Stovington. Larry wanders the now desolate city of New York looking for survivors. Stu manages to escape the disease center and tries to determine his next move. There's one thing the group all has in common: they begin to dream of Flag and of Mother Abigail, the oldest women in American who will soon be the leader of the good side.

The arc closes with sides of good and evil starting to form. Flagg begins recruiting killers and arsonists to serve him, while Stu meets up with Fran and Harold and the group agree to head West in search of survivors.

Something about the end of the world has always fascinated me. What an adventure it could be, though the grim reality is most of us would crumble on the first day. Still, King's The Stand is the ultimate tale of the end of the world and it's great to see it being released in comic form for all to enjoy. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is at the helm of adapting King's work to comic form and he's done a great job with the writing thus far. It's a difficult task deciding what to leave in and what to cut out, yet Roberto seems to have nailed all the key story elements thus far.

If there's one element to comics that can't complete with an actual novel, it's character development. We get lots of it in the novel and even the mini-series, yet it's lacking in the comics due to obvious limitations. For those familiar with the story and characters, this is easily overlooked. For those discovering The Stand the first time around, this comic probably isn't the best way to do it.

When the series closes I'll be back to review the final arcs and post my complete thoughts on the story. Until then, get reading!

Image Quality

inline Image The art in The Stand is illustrated by Mike Perkins and is quite phenomenal in bringing some of the characters I know and love to life. As good as the story of The Stand is, comics are a visual medium and it takes great art to seal the deal. Luckily for us Perkins is a talented artist and does right by fans.

Final Thoughts

There series if off to a great start and I highly recommend it to fans of The Stand. The first volume, Captain Tripps, is out in hardcover and available for a reasonable price. Keep an eye out for the next arc, Soul Survivors, which is due to hit stands on October 21, 2009.

Rating

Story - A-
Image Quality - A

Technical Info.
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