Review: The Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance #1

The Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance is the newest Twilight Zone series from Dynamite.  This issue delivers on the signature bizarreness and plot twists you’d come to expect from this franchise but is it worth putting on your pull list? This debut issue follows William Gaunt, a successful author but a very troubled man with a dark past.  He’s flying back to his hometown of Scoville to do a book signing at a local shop.  It’s clear that he hated his hometown, and we soon figure out why.  When he drives through his old neighborhood, he ends up seeing a kid that he swears is himself.  His mother scolds the younger version of himself and the boy slams the door to escape to the outside world, free of his abusive mother.  William looks on in bewilderment.  Later that night, he ends up running into his mother who’s about to go hook up with some random guy at the bar.  She’s extremely drunk, and William offers to drive her home.  She ends up inviting him in for a drink, and he declines.  However, when he walks her in the door she starts flipping out at the kid version of William and ends up tearing apart one of his comic books because he won’t be quiet.

TZSS01-Cov-A-Vilanova 1-21-15William and William’s relationship starts the next day when William shows up to the book store for a signing, but that store isn’t having a signing.  He does run into the young version of himself and they hit it off (obviously, being that they’re the same person).  Young William, or as he refers to himself Billy, ends up telling William about the fights and trouble he’s been getting into in school-clearly influenced by his mother’s abusive behavior and the lack of a father figure.  William feels bad for Billy and gives him some life advice.  He wants to save Billy from the torment that he faced.  But if he is able to protect Billy from these hardships, will he grow up to be William the successful tortured artist of a writer?

Overall, I enjoyed this issue.  I liked the emotional draw into the character with the abuse of Billy as a kid and the daunting task of William trying to protect himself from the agony he went through.  But then again if he saves himself from that misery in order to be at peace, who knows what his future might be.  The ending was also a bit of a twist and definitely had me curious for what happens next month.

That said, the art isn’t anything to write home about in my opinion and I felt there was some wasted space.  I got to the end of the story and was thinking “really, that’s it?”  Bottom line is there isn’t much going on this issue.  William has a few encounters with Billy which is the meat and potatoes of the comic, the rest is more or less filler.  I can’t recommend picking this up unless you’re a big Twilight Zone fan or love stories with time travel.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Mark Rahner Artist: Edu Menna Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/2/15 Format: Print/Digital