Thursday, 23 February 2012

New Beginnings - Road Rage #1

If you mention the name Stephen King to pretty much anyone then they will immediately know either a book, a film or television adaptation that he has been a part of. Even if the person you are talking to can’t give you a title that he has worked on, then they have still most likely seen his work in one format or another without even realising. King is therefore one of the most prolific writers of the modern age. Slightly lesser known is his son Joe Hill who is also a writer and has joined his father on this production. Fans of IDW comics may know his name for his comic Locke & Key which sold out in a day on its first publication run.

Stephen King has credited a great amount of his inspiration as a writer to Richard Matheson, who has written one of my favourite books I am Legend, and this is particularly apt as Road Rage is the combination of two novellas - Duel (by Matheson) and now Throttle by King and Hill. Both King and Hill have spoken out for their love of Duel and so taking the concept and creating something new is only natural. This comes across in the comic as there is a certain familiarity in certain aspects such as the shadowy figure in the cab but in partnership with this there is also fresh twists following a biker gang.

The Tribe are a close knit crew who - through recent events - are beginning to feel polarised. Although some of them don’t overtly display it, Vince - who heads the Tribe - knows that action has to be taken. The story follows the gang as they are planning to make amends for a meth deal gone wrong and start to plan their course of action. Along the way they cross paths, quite literally, with a juggernaut which leads to all of the plans changing as it turns from a run to Show Low into a run for life.

In contrast to King’s normal writing, as a comic, you get to see his characters which he normally allows the reader to paint themselves. This may give them a very stereotypical look to them but this is a grimy almost retro story and so needs something fitting to match. Nelson Daniel has done this well. Painting the background behind King and Hill’s work you have some beautiful open scenes which still have a feeling of isolation to them. They move as a group but they are still all alone in the wilds. This feeling is pushed even further when the carnage ensues and each death is individually highlighted. A nice touch to hit a point home I felt.

This is a great little comic with a fantastic final panel and if you’re a fan of Matheson, King or Hill then you will definitely like it and should pick it up as an homage to the original Duel. If you’re not a fan then you should still find it entertaining but maybe not one which has you desperate for the whole story.

What it does show is that at the moment the portfolio of stories, characters, writers and ideas that IDW is amassing is growing and a strong line up as well. I’m really impressed by what they’re producing and looking forward to more from them too.

Next week, Matt Puddy will be taking a look back at the first story arc of the New 52 Justice League.

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