This is a trifle but worth mentioning nonetheless. Apparently, IDW Publishing is really into The Twilight Zone this week as it has two of its titles refer to the same classic episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” You don’t mess with such an iconic piece of television without good reason but that didn’t stop Scott Lobdell, of X-Men fame, from writing, “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet,” for Issue Three of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Music Box. I want to like this title because the potential is there for it to be so wierd and Jen appears to be so lovely but I’m starting to think that maybe no one is going to get any love from this comic because maybe no one really cares what happens to it, at least not in the writing. The art was going south too but this issue and the next are pulling this back up to cruising speed.
In this latest Hewitt Music Box, the story revolves around a corporal on his return flight from Iraq. He’s an “aw shucks” sweet guy and even makes friends with a very sexy girl despite the fact he can hardly put two words together an account of his shyness or slowness. Anyway, this sadsack means no harm but he’s the latest person to find that evil box and so there’s hell to pay. The plane rocks back and forth due to a heavy storm. People panic. The sexy girl panics. And the sadsack can’t get the music out of his head. Make it stop! Finally, he tracks down the box, lifts open the cargo door, which should have sent everything into a tailspin but doesn’t, and throws out the box. The girl will have nothing to do with him and he’s left in a catatonic state. Basically, this is safe, predictable and bland.
Anyway, the fact is that, if Jen did have any creative involvement in this comic, it was to embue it with her overall mellowness. Mellow might work on an attractive woman but mellow is not so good for any really good entertainment. To speak the truth, “The Ghost Whisperer” is pure mellow. It is what it is. Everyone on that show and every plot on that show is oh so mellow without anything remotely animated or interesting to be found anywhere near it. But the darn thing has a lot of fans or at least enough. So, why not have a comic on that same safe vibe, right? I suppose no harm in that but it’s also a shame. If the stakes were higher, I wonder, would Lobdell try harder? Considering the project, you’d think the stakes were already fairly high. Apparently, not high enough. I’d love to be kinder about this but maybe the truth is that you win some and you lose some.
Now, on the winning side to taking on the William Shatner-goes-bonkers-over-a-gremlin-only-he-can-see-hellbent-on-destruction-TV-gem is to have a darn good reason to bring it up in the first place. That is the case with IDW’s other Twilight Zone related comic offering this week, Weekly World News #2. This one shows pride in workmanship and that makes perfect sense because the IDW publisher and editor-in-chief, Chris Ryall, is doing the writing himself. And, not only that, the art is in tune with the humor. My hat is off to Alan Robinson for all the care he put into making this comic so much fun.
There’s a lot of political humor here and that is certainly a tricky thing to make work. You have to strike the right balance and then you have to transcend whatever gripe or rant you may have. Ryall and Robinson achieve this by very well paced and funny writing and art. Essentially, much of the plot revolves around Ed Anger,a right-wing nut, who is in hot pursuit of his liberal nemisis, Bat Boy. Anger suffers from a fevered brain full of conspiracy theories. And Bat Boy is simply Bat Boy, a bekon of hope to his adoring fans. On the flight back from a botched attempt to take down Manigator, the half-man half-alligator mutant, Anger looks out his window to see Bat Boy sitting on a wing of the plane. It’s perfectly timed and alone well worth buying the comic. To add to it, as the plane starts to free fall, we get a panel with Bat Boy striking a pose against a background of lightning like in The Dark Knight.
The great thing about Weekly World News is that it’s not just a couple of panels to watch out for. The whole thing is good. It may look easy but it’s a safe bet that this one took some elbow grease. You don’t go in and make a sloppy, near random, reference to The Twilight Zone and expect me not to squawk about it. Weekly World News knows how to handle such an undertaking and that is a sign of quality and greatness.