Monday, September 23, 2013

A Review of "The Stand, Vol. 6: The Night Has Come"

We're nearing the end of our walkthrough of Marvel's The Stand, and as the series of reviews has progressed, I've had less and less to say.  That's not because there's nothing to say about The Stand as it reaches its conclusion; certainly not.

Instead, it's probably a sign of a certain amount of ambivalence on my part toward the adaptation.  I stand by my assessment that it is a solid adaptation, but I've got a less made-up mind on the subject of whether I should recommend the comics to fans of the novel.  That question has been lurking in the background of these reviews, and I've avoided answering it.  But here, close to the end, I think there's no need.  If you've read the reviews, I think you've probably made your mind up one way or the other.  What need is there for me to add to that?




art by Tomm Coker and Laura Martin

art by Tomm Coker and Laura Martin


Why Marvel would opt to use that Trashcan Man image for the cover of this graphic novel is something I will never, ever understand.



The Stand: The Night Has Come #1

published August 10, 2011 (cover date October 2011)


art by Tomm Coker and Laura

This is easily my second-least-favorite cover of the entire series.  The cover to American Nightmares #1 still takes the booby prize, but this one is close.  It reminds me of The Langoliers (the movie), which is never, ever, EVER a good thing.

The contents:
  • Page 1: "Previously in The Stand."
  • Pages 2-8: Judge Farris meets a bad end at the hands of Bobby Terry, and Bobby Terry meets a bad end at the hands teeth of Randall Flagg.
  • Pages 9-22: Dayna is unmasked as a spy, and also meets a bad end.  But at her own hands.
  • Page 23: Julie Lawry shows up again, and, having seen Tom Cullen, thinks she knows who the third spy might be.
  • Pages 22-26: character bios for the three spies.  Omitted from the collected editions, included in The Stand Companion.
  • Pages 27-29: script-to-final comparisons for pages 1, 3, and 4.  Omitted from the collected editions, included in The Stand Companion.
  • Pages 30-32: black-and-white previews for the next issue.  Omitted from the collected editions, included in The Stand Companion.

The Stand: The Night Has Come #2

published September 14, 2011 (cover date November 2011)


art by Tomm Coker and Laura Martin


I didn't like the cover for #1 much, but I love the cover for #2.  Not only does it show Nadine's newly-white hair, it also suggests the coldness that comes with Flagg's penetration.  Flagg looks a little like Danzig, too, which is fine by me.

The contents:
  • Page 1: "Previously in The Stand."
  • Pages 2-5: the bad death of Harold Emery Lauder.
  • Pages 6-20: Randall Flagg and Nadine Cross "get married" in the desert, and return to Vegas.
  • Page 21: some explosives go off at the Vegas airfield, killing all of Flagg's pilots.  Thanks, Trashcan Man!
  • Pages 22-23: Tom Cullen travels through the desert, trying to make his way home.
  • Pages 24-26: "Harold and Nadine: A Look Back," a retrospective on the destructive relationship of Flagg's two most valuable henchmen.  Omitted from the collected editions, included in The Stand Companion.
  • Pages 27-29: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on the Harold/Nadine relationship.  Omitted from the collected editions, included in The Stand Companion.
  • Pages 30-32: script-to-final comparisons for pages 1-3.  Omitted from the collected editions, included in The Stand Companion.

The Stand: The Night Has Fallen #3

published October 12, 2011 (cover date December 2011)


art by Tomm Coker and Laura Martin

Being as I am not much of a Trashcan Man fan, I'm moderately dismayed to see him get a cover all to himself.  But if I'm being honest, what bothers me about this cover is the uncanny similarity in looks between Coker's Trashcan Man and somebody I used to know: Don "Squeaky" Fuller, a mentally-challenged fellow who was a bit of a presence around the University of Alabama athletic department in the '80s and '90s.  I won't go into details on that, mainly because I don't have all that many details to give; they'd be purely personal reminiscences, and Don and I were mere acquaintances.  So don't let this sound like I'm claiming for familiarity than I actually had; I had only a little bit.  Anyways, if you have any interest in that, here's a link to an article reporting on Squeaky's death.

And for those of who didn't have enough interest, here's the photo from that article:




I'm guessing you can figure out for yourself which one Don was.

Anyways, that's what I think of when I see the cover to this issue.  And Don Fuller wouldn't have been on Flagg's side; no, sir, he would not have been.

The contents of this issue:
  • Page 1: "Previously in The Stand."
  • Pages 2-4: Stu and the gang first confront the corpse of The Kid, and then, later, confront the corpse of Harold Lauder.
  • Pages 5-9: the sad death of Nadine Cross.
  • Pages 10-12: Trashcan Man, roaming the desert, finds a nuclear stockpile.
  • Pages 13-16: Flagg sulks in the desert.
  • Pages 17-23: Stu breaks his leg, and the others reluctantly abandon him to his fate.
  • Pages 24-26: "The Making of This Issue's Cover."  Omitted from the collected editions, included in The Stand Companion.
  • Pages 27-31: script-to-final pages.  Omitted from the collected editions, included in The Stand Companion.
  • Page 32: a page of black-and-white art from the next issue.

The Stand: The Night Has Come #4

published November 16, 2011 (cover date January 2012)


art by Tomm Coker and Laura Martin

This is a very strong cover, even if it does fudge on the plot details a bit.

The contents:
  • Page 1: "Previously in The Stand."
  • Pages 2-3: Stu finds that Kojak has decided to keep him company.
  • Pages 3-4: Larry has a nightmare.
  • Pages 5-6: Larry, Glen, and Ralph are taken prisoner.
  • Pages 7-8: Barry Dorgan questions Larry in prison.
  • Pages 9-12: Flagg confronts Glen.
  • Pages 13-23: Larry and Ralph are taken out to be publicly executed, but Trashcan Man shows up with a nuclear bomb, which is accidentally set off by a bolt of energy from Flagg.  Or, if you prefer, by the Hand of God.  Everyone is vaporized except Flagg, who vanished just before the blast.
  • Pages 24-32: "The Tryout," detailing a sequence from this issue that Aguirre-Sacasa and Perkins worked on when they were trying to land the assignment to be the creative team behind the series.  Only about half of this material is included in the collected editions.  The rest can be found in The Stand Companion.


The Stand: The Night Has Come #5

published December 14, 2011 (cover date February 2012)


art by Tomm Coker and Laura Martin


Wouldn't this have been better if it was a shot of Stu from behind, with a mushroom cloud looming on the horizon?  The art and colors are good here, but it's a sort of ineffectual concept for a cover.

The contents:
  • Page 1: "Previously in The Stand."
  • Pages 2-6: Stu and Kojak witness the destruction of Las Vegas from afar.
  • Pages 7-11: Tom shows up, and they all begin the journey back to Boulder.  Stu is very sick.
  • Pages 12-14: the specter of Nick Andros shows up and tells Tom what sort of medicine Stu needs.
  • Pages 15-17: Stu gets better, but is worried about Frannie.
  • Pages 18-23: Stu and Tom finally reach the Boulder city limits.
  • Pages 24-25: a map of the journey from Boulder and back again.  Include din the collected editions.
  • Pages 26-31: script-to-final pages for the first six pages of the issue.  Omitted from the collected editions, included in The Stand Companion.
  • Page 32: a couple of sketches for the cover.  Omitted from the collected editions, included in The Stand Companion.

The Stand: The Night Has Come #6

published January 11, 2012 (cover date March 2012)


art by Tomm Coker and Laura Martin

Simple, ominous, effective.

The contents of this final issue:
  • Page 1: "Previously in The Stand."  Honestly, why didn't these get scuttled after the second arc or so?  Who was reading that didn't already know what was going on?  This was sort of a wasted page, I'd say.  And by that, I mean, it was a wasted page in each of about 21 issues.
  • Pages 2-4: Stu and Tom (and Kojak) re-enter Boulder, and hear some potentially bad news: Frannie's given birth, and the baby has the superflu.
  • Pages 5-10: Stu and Frannie are reunited, and Baby Peter gets better.
  • Pages 11-16: Frannie says she wants to go back to Maine, and Stu allows as how that'd be fine by him.
  • Pages 17-20: the Redman/Goldsmith family has stopped for a while in Hemingford Home (which is now spelled correctly, and does not have an extra "m").
  • Pages 21-23: Flagg, still wearing jeans, reappears somewhere, somewhen, on a beach.  Some tribal people come out of the jungle, and begin to worship him.
  • Pages 24-32 : afterword material by various members of the creative team.  It's a real shame that none of this was included in the collected edition.  Still, it's collected in The Stand Companion for those of you who want to spend the money to get it.

*****

Alright, let's get to just a few specifics, for whatever they end up being worth.


The Night Has Come #1, page 4, panel 3

I've given Perkins a good amount of grief over the course of these reviews, but I wanted to put up a panel that showed how he is also capable of doing perfectly solid work.  Not great, mind you; he CAN do great, as we've seen (and will see again), but also merely good.  Here, note that he is trying nothing flashy in terms of facial expression, movement, stance, posture, etc.  This is just a dude standing there with a gun; Perkins is showing us that and letting the story do the rest.  I think if he had done that -- or, if you prefer, if scripter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had directed him to do that -- more frequently, the series would have been much more satisfying.


The Night Has Come #1, page 11, panel 3

I guess I'm a sucker for these Big Red Eye shots.  But they pretty much all work.


The Night Has Come #1, page 21, panels 9-10

I didn't lost any other examples of it, but I feel like the meeting between Flagg and Dayna is, visually, a complete botch.  Perkins' Flagg simply does not have the right characteristics to withstand the falsely jocund tenor of this scene; it does not work.  But rather than dwell on that, I'd like to showcase what does work: the brutal aftermath.


The Night Has Come #2, page 22, panel 2

I like it when the layouts get a little surreal.  I like it when my comic books take advantage of the fact that they are comic books.  The latter half of the series doesn't have all that many such moments, sadly.


The Night Has Come #3, page 4, panel 2

Let me get this straight: Marvel had no problems showing something like this, but balked at letting Harold's ledger refer to "Mr. Stuart DOG-COCK Redman"?  Does that seem like maybe someone's moral priorities are badly out of whack?

Either way, this image is grody to the max.  And yes, that is a good thing.


The Night Has Come #3, page 11, panel 2

Unless Trashy is supposed to look like a dog or Gene Simmons, I don't know what is going on with this.


The Night Has Come #4, page 12, panel 4

That's pretty great, there.


The Night Has Come #4, page 12, panel 5

I am reminded of the digging-for-the-Well-of-Souls scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark here, except that these people are doing some serious evil, whereas Indy was doing some serious good.


The Night Has Come #4, page 13, panel 2

What's that facial expression all about?  Does Barry know a nuke is about to go off?


The Night Has Come #4, page 15, panel 3

The Rat Man makes his only appearance.  Can't say I wish he was around more; I don't.


The Night Has Come #4, page 18

So THAT'S what happened to Rich(ard) Bachman...


The Night Has Come #4, page 20, panel 4

Visually, there's nothing wrong with this.  But as a story point, I still feel it just...doesn't really work.  I wish I didn't feel that way, but I do; sorry, y'all.


The Night Has Come #4, page 22, panel 1

If I had somehow been invested with veto power, I'd have vetoed this.


The Night Has Come #5, page 8, panel 2

He does look brighter.  He also looks a bit like Mark Hamill.


The Night Has Come #5, page 11, panel 1

I'm not positive it actually is, but I'm going to count this as a Christine reference.


The Night Has Come #5, page 17, panel 1

Here's your large Nightmare Fuel, sir!  Can I get you anything else?

Perkins was pretty great throughout when it came to the horror, wasn't he?


The Night Has Come #6, page 4, panel 5

Allegedly, this nurse is named Marcy; but I think we all know this is Nurse Jackie.


The Night Has Come #6, page 23

That's the final page of the story; it wouldn't have been right to end it without one final bit of finger weirdness, I guess.

*****

A few closing words are in order, I guess.  Lest anyone misinterpret the tone of these reviews, I'd like to re-emphasize that overall, I think I did enjoy the comics more than not.  The art doesn't all work for me, though, and because of that, what could have been an awesome adaptation is -- in my opinion -- merely a decent one.  But, as I said at the outset, it's worth praising simply due to the fact that everyone got through the entire thing!  That consistency counts for a lot.

Now, one last thing.  For those of you who've read this and might be considering buying the comics, I guess you ought to get a recommendation from me as to what format you should buy them in.  You've basically got four choices:
  1. Hit up a good back-issues dealer (such as MyComicShop.com) and get all the single issues, and whatever variant covers you might desire.  I haven't done extensive research on the matter, but recent experience tracking down some of the variants I did not have indicated to me that obtaining a complete collection of the single issues might not be AS expensive as one might expect.
  2. Buy the graphic novels in hardback.
  3. Buy the graphic novels in paperback.  I do not have these; I've only got the hardbacks.  I assume the content is exactly the same, but cannot verify it.
  4. Buy the omnibus edition.  The cover price on that is $150, but you can sometimes find it on sale for as much as 50% off.

As I've said, I am a fan of the single-issue approach.  However, I also like the feel of a good hardback book in my hands.  All in all, I'm sort of glad that I did what I did: I got all three versions (single-issue, collected, and omnibus).  I don't much like to think about how much money I spent doing that; but I'm happy to have them all.

But when push comes to shove, to the person who wants all of the comics but wants to choose only one of the above options, I have to recommend the omnibus edition.  The package consists of two volumes (housed inside a slipcase): one for the story itself, and two for The Stand Companion, the collected edition of all the supplementary material.  Is it expensive?  Yes. But if you catch it on sale, it's not quite so bad.  Also, the size of the book is a bit larger than the graphic novels; not to a huge extent, but it is noticeable, and the art -- the good bits, at least -- benefits from the increased size.


stolen from: http://martwastrefa.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-stand-omnibus.html


That's what the whole thing looks like.  I'm pleased to have it on my shelf.  And not merely from a completist's point of view; in revisiting the comics, I really did enjoy plowing through them a second time.  Yes, I have issues, and complaints.  But that does not negate the overall enjoyment.  It merely qualifies it.

But qualified enjoyment is enough some times, and what I'll say in closing is this: if you're a big fan of the novel, and the tics in the art that so bothered me didn't bother you, then the odds are extremely good that you will enjoy the adaptation even more than I do.

And with that, the series is complete.  The circle closes.

Two more days till Doctor Sleep.

Bring it on.

8 comments:

  1. Damn, that is a sad little story re: Squeaky. RIP.

    I really like that baby carriage with raven cover.

    "Two more days till Doctor Sleep.

    Bring it on."

    Bryan pulls out twin six-shooters, spins around in his office chair, "woo-hoo!"ing and shooting at the ceiling. Sprinklers activate, SWAT team called... no matter.

    Great job on these. We TTITL Constant Readers are truly spoiled.

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    1. As are we DSO Constant Readers! In fact, I've got a post about "Errand of Mercy" to go investigate. To the next tab, away.....!

      Delete
  2. On the whole, if I had to describe this comic to other readers, it would be to label it as the Cliffnotes version of the novel. The story is shortened, but not in too bad a way, and on that level it more or less does it's job.

    Granted, I still maintain imagery is secondary to story in any medium. That said, I do admit when art is so bad it calls attention to itself. Seriously, there are too many mistakes in this series to call it even competent.

    I don't remember if I've wrote this down in an earlier post, but I do remember thinking (wishing actually) that they'd contacted Bernie Wrightson as the all issue illustrator for the series.

    All in all, I'd say read the comics if you want for an outline, but definitely graduate to the novel (78 version) eventually.

    As for Sleep, well, I've sent in that so called "comment" post earlier today, just to let you know.

    Otherwise, if I had to give a final idea of how it makes me feel, I'd have to do it through analogy, by comparing it to another work that got botched badly.

    Luckily, I think I've found just the vid to convey it.

    Without further ado, I present the good people of Who's Line is it Anyway, and the Sir Thomas "Neville" Servo choir (with sincerest apologies for all fans of Falcor and Steppenwolf).

    http://blip.tv/vaulting/vaulting-episode-17-the-neverending-buzzkill-iii-escape-from-fantasia-3674537

    ChrisC

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    1. Can I be honest?

      I'm really not a Berni Wrightson fan. I love his "Cycle of the Werewolf" art, but otherwise, almost everything I've seen from him has left me cold. A few of his pieces for "The Stand" are okay, and a few of his "Wolves of the Calla" pieces are good, too. But there are others that I don't like at all.

      He'd probably have been a step up over Mike Perkins, at any rate.

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  3. Christ, that shot of Satan-Flagg is hot garbage. And the final shot of him on the beach isn't much better. Your comments Re: the weird hand/finger weirdness and the bizarre facial expressions consistently made me laugh out loud, so thanks for that. It's the type of thing that can not be unseen once it's pointed out to you.

    The "Hand of God" shot is an improvement over what we got in the miniseries, but I'll always hope for an actual ball of flame in any future adaptations, nothing resembling a hand, and certainly not the literal Hand of God. I think that small change would do the story a world of good.

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    1. It's an idea that is easy to do provided you want to embrace the concept and make it literal -- considerably less easy if you want it to be ambiguous. The miniseries failed utterly; the comics, maybe not "utterly," but it's not a win.

      I go back and forth on whether it works for me in the novel. I think it mostly does, but I am proud of the two-disc Blu-ray of "The Lawnmower Man" I just got in the mail, so what do I know?

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    2. Well, I think it's more successful in the book because it is more ambiguous. Ralph describes it as "the Hand of God", but King never stops calling it "the ball of blue flame." The story never outright declares it God's hand, which I think works in its favor.

      I just don't see a literal Hand of God as being necessary. In a less literal sense, his hand has already guided them to that exact time and place in Vegas, that involvement is enough. Having the creator of the universe directly intervene on behalf of the good guys feels like a cheat, and makes this battle between good and evil feel like a rigged game. It's something I hope is altered if we ever do get a film adaptation.

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    3. The climactic scene in Vegas works for me as philosophy; it doesn't work as storytelling. I think it could be made to work with some tweaks, but for the most part, I agree that any adaptation is probably going to be best served by finding its own ending.

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