Saturday, June 30, 2012

Comic review: Road Rage by Stephen King

Title: Road Rage
Authors: Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Joe Hill
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: 07/31/2012
ISBN: 1613772823

Disclaimer: I have only read the first issue of this comic, so my review will be limited in its scope of the series as a whole. 

Stephen King is no stranger to the graphic novel world, with his books Dark Tower, The Stand being adapted into comic format. Add onto this the American Vampire series and you know that you've got an experienced writer coming into this series. For the most part King shows that he knows what he's doing, but I can't help but feel that I'm missing out on something.

Road Rage unites Richard Matheson's classic Duel and the contemporary work it inspired...two power-packed short stories by three of the genre's most acclaimed authors.

Duel, an unforgettable tale about a driver menaced by a semi truck, was the source for Stephen Spielberg's acclaimed first film of the same name. Throttle, by Stephen King and Joe Hill, is a duel of a different kind, pitting a faceless trucker against a tribe of motorcycle outlaws, in the simmering Nevada desert. Their battle is fought out on 20 miles of the most lonely road in the country, a place where the only thing worse than not knowing what you're up against is slowing down.

I've never read/listened to the short stories that comprised the audiobook version of Road Rage, which brought together Matheson's Duel with Stephen King and Joe Hill's Throttle. Both stories deal with a person or persons dealing with a psychotic trucker, and maybe if I'd heard those stories first I'd have a better idea of the various characters. The first issue of Road Rage focuses on King and Hill's story, and while it's fairly clear as to what the basic storyline is, we're given such a brief introduction to everything and everyone that I just didn't feel as connected to the characters as I wanted to be. We have characters getting killed off in the first issue that have to be re-introduced as they die- that's how little we're told about them, that the artists/writers felt that they needed to have their names flashed twice so we don't forget who they were. 

The artwork does fit the feel of the story, though. We have this wonderful "pulp comic" feel to the panels, something that will either completely thrill the readers or drive them batty. I kind of wavered between which side I was on, ultimately deciding that I loved how the book was illustrated. It just plain works and is one of the strong points of the volume. In my first issue I also got to see some beautiful cover artwork as well as some illustrations that were thrown in for good measure, which is what pushed me into the "love it" category. 

I really can't fault this first issue for anything other than the slow pacing, as going into the secondary Tribe members would probably have been unnecessary and only bogged the story down. I do wish that I could shake the feeling that I'd understand more if I'd have listened to the audiobook, but I would imagine that the story will be more fully developed as the book goes on. 

Stephen King fans will no doubt snap this graphic novel up in a heartbeat, but for those who are a little hesitant I recommend picking up the audiobook before this is released or looking for this in your local library. It's something that does look to be worth reading and I'll look for the full version when it hits the shelves of my local stores.

3 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

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