Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Longbox

Stephen King’s N.
issue: 1 of 4
script: Marc Guggenheim
artist: Alex Maleev
publisher: Marvel
I’ve never been a big fan of Stephen King’s in the past.  Oh, I understand he’s the master of modern horror writing all that.  At least, that is what I’m told.  I have enjoyed a lot of his short fiction work and the occasional novel, but nothing has really driven me to his work.
N. is based on a short story written by King and adapted by Marc Guggenheim with direction from King and asks with question, “What if mental illness was communicable on par with the common cold?”  As with all King stories, there is a deep history that gets teased at and trails the story at hand.  This first issue starts off in 1911 as a family is destroyed in a murder suicide.  Flash forward to the present (well, 2008 anyway) where the suicide of a Psychiatrist opens the door to the mystery of the case of patient N. Nash.
Nash is an obsessive compulsive whose OCD is seemingly the result of an encounter with a dark otherworldly force residing in a stone circle in rural Maine.  His story unfolds in typical King fashion of the everyman encountering forces beyond his reckoning and how those forces scar the psyche, not unlike Lovecraft either.  Nash’s concern is that he may have unwittingly released something into the world that he has no ability to put back.  He is haunted by the nightmare of destruction at the hands of a terrible, black monster from beyond.
I’ve never read the short story this book is based on but I can say how much I enjoyed this first issue.  Marc Guggenheim has an excellent command of internal and external dialogue.  Since this is an adaptation of a story I’ve never read, I cannot say how much is his and how much is King’s.  In either case, the writing works well with Alex Maleev’s art.  His images create a darkly beautiful and engaging world.  Maleev has mastered the art of mixing photography and comic art to produce amazing visual storytelling.  This book is one of those that is worth it for the art alone, I’m just glad there is a solid story in place as well.
This is a case of a first issue doing what a first issue in any limited series should do; it generates interest in the story, gives you just enough to whet the appetite, and then promises fantastic follow up courses.  I’ll be interested to see how N. works itself out.

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