Monday, November 28, 2011

Review #19: Stephen and Marvel are Superfriends

Writer: Stephen King [adapted by Marc Guggenheim]
Artist: Alex Maleev
Published: Marvel, 2010

Stephen King and Marvel have some kind of partnership going on... and I like it. It seems King is actually creative/executive director of the adaptations that Marvel is doing of his work, which is pretty cool. Apparently, this was first adapted into a series of “webisodes”, which I should check out.*

N. is based on a short story of the same name in which we learn, in the first few pages, that a psychiatrist named Jonathan Bonsaint has recently killed himself. The suicide came after a particularly troubled patient entered his life, one Nathan N. Nance. Nathan had been suffering from OCD, which seemed to have manifested after he stumbled upon a mysterious circle of stones in a field near the fictional town of Motton, Maine [a lot of King's stories take place in Maine, as he grew up there]. “N.”, as Jonathan refers to him, came to believe that the circle of stones was some kind of hole in reality, and that he had become it's “gatekeeper”, so to speak.

Charlie, a childhood friend of Jonathan and his sister, Sheila, reaches out to her upon hearing of her brother's death. Sheila has found and read Jonathan's patient case study on N., and she sends it to Charlie, who is a medical expert for American News, to get his take on how N. may have affected Jonathan's suicide. But Sheila and Charlie have begun to be affected by this strange case themselves... WHAT COULD BE GOING ON?

I haven't read King's short story, so I can't compare it to the original, but I really like this comic. It has a wonderful, ominous vibe. The characters keep thinking that Nathan is merely suffering from some sort of delusion, and the supernatural aspect is left looming in the background. The true nature of the “hole in reality” is never fully explored, providing lovely tension throughout the story.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a fan of “meta” or self-referential stuff. I like little winks at the reader, and the cleverer, the better. There is a bit of dialogue toward the end where Charlie is pitching an article about what he thinks is a new phenomenon [“contagious obsessive compulsive disorder”] and he says “forget article, there might be a book in this,” to which his boss wryly responds: “a short story, at any rate.”

Most of the story is told in a series of letters, journal entries, and the case study, so it jumps around chronologically a bit and provides various perspectives of what has occurred. Newspaper clippings and Charlie's aforementioned article are shown, and even a Google map of the infamous field [and yes, I confirmed the map's accuracy], providing more depth to the world being created here.

The art has a photo-realistic quality that I like, and a real sense of texture. The attention to detail is great, with desks covered in clutter, windows full of posters, faces creased with wrinkles. I just noticed a Marvel comic in the background of one scene! How's that for self-referential?

I should review a comic about blogs for my blog about comics.

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