Tuesday, September 25, 2012
If you've been hanging out here and putting up with me long enough, you know I am a huge fan of Stephen King. We go way back. Over the last couple of years, I've also become acquainted with the joys of the graphic novel. Two years ago for my birthday, my good blogger friend Molly Bumble sent me the first volume (ultimately of a set of six) of The Stand in graphic form. I would define this gift as #1, the perfect gift for me, and #2, the gift that keeps on giving. I ran out and bought the next two volumes, and anxiously
awaited the rest. The reviews of these three graphic novels can be found here:
The Stand Volume 1: Captain Trips
The Stand Volume 2: American Nightmares
The Stand Volume 3: Soul Survivors
The beauty of this vision of The Stand is that it has not been influenced by the made-for-TV-movie (thank God, in the case of Molly Ringwald), but is an interpretation by apostles of Uncle Stevie's Magnum Opus itself, with The Man on the periphery offering his input. Apostles that can write and draw. They bring it all to life in terrifying, visceral illustrations that express every emotion experienced by the survivors of the King Apocalypse. FYI, these are not for children. There is language, gore and sexuality in these pages, which is as it should be. I'm going to briefly talk about the events in each volume, and there will be minor spoilers. In a novel that contains over a thousand pages, however, where the biggest surprise and delight is King's storytelling, I don't think I'm ruining anything for you.
In the fourth volume, "Hardcases", we are introduced to Trashcan Man, who is headed towards the Dark Man in Las Vegas. He is wounded and mentally unstable, and has pledged his life to the Walking Dude. He joins his ilk in Vegas, who are forming an unholy community of the worst of humanity. Yet they demand loyalty and do not tolerate alcohol or drug abuse. Offenders are publicly crucified.
While Mother Abigail waits for the gathering of her flock in Boulder, various rag-tag groups are headed in her direction. Larry is traveling with Nadine, Joe the wild boy, and Lucy. Frannie, Stu, Harold and Glen Bateman are ambling in that direction too, but things are strained because Harold perceives that Stu is moving in on his woman. A community is established in Boulder, and a governing committee is formed. Frannie and Stu start to suspect Harold is up to no good, and Mother Abigail disappears on a religious pilgrimage.
In "No Man's Land", Nadine and Harold join forces, and ultimately commit a final act of terrorism before heading West to Las Vegas. The Free Zone of Boulder sends three spies to Vegas as well to determine what the Dark Man is up to, knowing that these three may be walking towards their demise. Larry and Frannie discover Harold's diary, which is a shocking wake-up call to those who thought they knew him. Mother Abigail returns from her pilgrimage, weak and sick, and tells the people of the Free Zone that God has spoken to her and asked that a group of four must travel, on foot, without provisions, to Las Vegas to face the Dark Man.
And that leaves us with the final installment, "The Night Has Come". The final showdown between good and evil. I won't say too much about what happens. If you haven't read the graphic novels, or the book, it is better to discover it for yourself. It is exciting, and dark, and sad, and hopeful, and appropriate for an apocalyptic battle.
I had to chuckle that in the final scenes, the artists (with Uncle Stevie's permission) included Stevie's likeness in a cameo part, a character named Rich Bachman (King's pen name). In the scene, Bachman, who was part of the Dark Man's inner circle, grows a conscience and speaks out, and is struck down. King loves his cameos in his movies, and enjoys allowing his characters from various books to visit each other. So I thought it was only appropriate that he got to make his own stand against evil.
It has been many years since I've read the novel "The Stand", so I'm not 100% sure if the details are consistent here. I'm not sure that the books end the same. Hey, I don't even remember what I had for breakfast! I will admit that the gregariousness of King's storytelling is lost. The dialogue is distilled down to exactly what is needed. But the story is epic, and the illustrations and jarring. If you are a fan of the novel, I would highly recommend you get your hands on the set and nestle down for a weekend of visual entertainment.
5 out of 5 stars