Wednesday, 1 August 2012

'Road Rage' - Various (IDW)

I was in Forbidden Planet for something else entirely, the other day (and I got it as well), but was still taken in by the comic 'grab bag' shelves. You know the ones I mean, you buy a bag of comics for a pound and take your chances on what is inside; there'll be at least one decent comic even if the other four are questionable.
In a completely unforeseen turn of events, all four comics were from the same mini-series and they were all great (give or take a little bit of greatness…)

We've all suffered from a bit of road rage haven't we? Even when you’re just the passenger it’s almost impossible not to hurl a few choice expletives in the direction of some idiot driver. Especially at the roundabout by Lewisham Station but that’s another story…

The most iconic road rage story has to be ‘Duel’ with its tale of a travelling salesman being menaced by an unseen lorry driver for reasons that he still doesn’t understand by the end. I saw the film years ago and still have my old VHS copy (possibly the only reason why I still have a video player in the house). It’s awesome viewing every time I see it.
I hadn’t been able to find a short story collection with ‘Duel’ in it (to be fair I probably wasn’t looking that hard) so was doubly pleased to open the bag and find it reproduced in comic book format.

It’s a lovely read (if you can call a horror story that but you know what I mean…) although I do have my reservations. These are mostly round the art; Rafa Garres does a good job of capturing the mood but sometimes the art felt a little rushed to me and I found myself looking for detail that wasn’t there. It looks great on the surface but certain panels don’t stand up to a closer inspection, really annoying when you find yourself drawn in and looking for that detail.

The story itself though, that’s the depth of a tyre tread away from being superb. There’s only so much you can fit into a comic book and I’d say that Ryall does a good job of sticking to the main points in his adapation. It’s not Ryall’s fault at all that my favourite bit (where the truck goes to trash the telephone box with our hero inside it) got cut from the proceedings. I’d been looking forward to it as well…
It’s a gripping adaptation though, no doubt about it. Matheson’s sparse prose could almost be made for this format. Every word counts and I couldn’t stop reading, even though I knew how it would end.

Joe and Stephen King teamed up for the novella ‘Throttle’ which has found itself reproduced here. I’m assuming it has anyway, not sure where else it appears but that’s the impression I got reading the comic. ‘Throttle’ actually kicks this mini-series off but I deliberately read it out of order, I just had to read ‘Duel’ first :o)

I was in two minds about the story to be honest. As a homage it’s a little too obvious for me, especially with the truck. I mean, I get it but it was just a little too full on for me. Where ‘Throttle’ redeemed itself though was in the back story, you get to find out a little more about the lorry drivers motives here and it could have gone either way in terms of the result. Being part of a series and doing that is a risky manoeuvre if you’re sharing space with ‘Duel’.It works though, it really does, especially how it all ties in at the end. I also liked the father/son dynamic that’s going on throughout the story; it added a human element that opened things up in a way that ‘Duel’ perhaps couldn’t.
The artwork is glorious here, a real mix of cool bikers and what happens to them when they meet the road unexpectedly. Kudos to Nelson Daniel for artwork that just glowed on the page…

So… One amazing story that was slightly let down by its art and gorgeous artwork that overshadowed a ‘slightly off’ tale. The overall result balances itself out with a compelling read. If ‘Road Rage’ comes out in trade do yourself a big favour and grab it. I’m so glad that I happened to pick this one up.

Nine and a Half out of Ten

No comments: