Quick Shot: Stephen King’s N.

Stephen King's N.
Stephen King's N.

Stephen King’s N
Adapted by Marc Guggenheim
Art by Alex Maleev

I picked up a read the graphic novel adaptation of Stephen King’s N. some time ago and after digesting the work several diverging thoughts crossed my mine. The first was “this is awesome,” followed shortly by “if this was awesome was the short story awesomer”, and lastly concluded with “this would make a really neat short film or single episode of an anthology show.” N., published by Marvel as a four issue mini-series is adapated from the short story of the same name seen in Just After Sunset.

The story uses the classic horror mode of the confessional. Or rather several nested confessionals. This narrative device in which the author (or a fictional author constructed for the story) presents the fiction as truth goes as far back Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto (based on an “italian manuscript”) and employed authors like Edgar Allan Poe (The Narrative of Arthur Gordan Pyn of Nantucket) and H. P. Lovecraft (At the Mountains of Madness). This is the same narrative framework that, for better or for worse, has given birth to found footage horror films The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and Apollo 18. I am rather a fan of this narrative device, no matter what genre it is used in (though I think it is at its best in horror), and N. cleverly nests several narratives within one another.

The titlular N. is an OCD patient of Dr. John Bonstraint whose encounter with a strange formation of rocks exposes either deeper levels of neurosis or some rather horrific truths about the nature of the universe. Apparently N. is heavily influenced by Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan (which also inspired Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror) and, particularly in comic form, does a fantastic job of evoking an atmosphere of anxiety and terror. Maleev’s realistic pencils do not in any way hinder his ability to conjure truly horrific monsters and the heavy inks and muted colors used lend the images a palpable weight that really serves to enhance the atmosphere.

N. is complete but doesn’t provide answers to all the questions the narrative asks. Instead N. leaves just enough room to let the imagination of readers extrapolate the horror as far as their twisted minds will allow. If you are a fan of horror I highly recommend going out a grabbing a copy of N. or giving the 25-part motion comic a try.

Last Week’s Best Comics- 3/5

Descriptions later:

Echo #1 (Terry Moore)
Having missed out on Strangers in Paradise I finally get to experience some Terry Moore. I knew nothing about this book going in and was pleasantly surprised to find it’s a sci-fi tale. Mostly set up, but off to an interesting start. Combined with last week’s RASL from Jeff Smith we have the two biggest “indie” writers starting new series; definatly a good thing.
BtVS Season 8 #12: Wolves at the Gate (Drew Goddard and Georges Jeanty)
My man crush on geek general Xander Harris wins out here. Spouting awesomely ridiculous one-liners (“My Beautiful Burning Eye!” “Merciful Zeus!”) good ‘ol Xander reminds me why he’s my favorite character in the Buffyverse. Also, Buffy mostly naked with other chick mostly naked. Situational comedy does work well in comics.
Logan #1 (of 3) (Brian K Vaughn and Eduardo Risso)
Another week, another Wolverine comic. I wanted to hate it but couldn’t. It seems we’re going to get a chance to see Wolvie vs. an atomic bomb. Pick up the black and white variant if you can.

Last Weeks Best- Comics 1/23

I’m only going to to a Top 3 picks from last week’s releases. I missed out this week (some great comics too, dammit) but hopefully get to the store tonight or tomorrow.

The Order #7
Consistently one my favorite books from the house of ideas, The Order, follows a group of heroes chosen to be the “face” of the Initiative. Lead by former-actor turned hero Henry Hellrung the team has to deal with public scandals, super-villains, and micro-management from Shield Director Tony Stark. To make matters worse this issue Namor is holding the city hostage with a tidal wave; with the few operative member of the team dealing with crowd control Henry has to deal with the zealous and ever-pissy leader of Atlantis. Light on action but with great tension-building dialogue you really feel for Henry as the “inexperienced hero” has to take on a situation most veteran heroes would cringe at. I won’t spoil anything but Henry was already one of my favorite characters before this issue and his actions here only cement that opinion. I was a little disappointed that the Supernaut and Aralune storyline was nowhere to be found but hopefully we’ll get some resolution on that end next issue. Not a great jumping on point but a solid, well-crafted issue none-the-less.
Astonishing X-Men #24
As if Messiah Complex wasn’t enjoyable enough fans of the X get the ever-talented Joss Whedon penning his penultimate issue on this (out of continuity?) X-book. Whedon has a fine tuned sense of dialogue and relationship between the characters of this team (to elements any Whedonite should know about from his TV work) and if you look fondly on the X-men of old you really should be reading this title. Cassiday on the pencils is a master and I can only hope to see his work more widespread once he’s done here. I must admit I can’t think of any other writer who could pull off a story about angry aliens launching a giant bullet at Earth. Quality book that should be on any superhero fan’s pull list.
Jack Staff Special
Image Comics have really carved out a niche for themselves. Moving from their creator owned, larger than life, superheroics of the 90s they have performed quiet a coup in publishing smaller independent titles and throwback action superheroes. Jack Staff is a comic I’ve always wanted to get into and now that it’s going monthly I’ll have that chance; thanks to the fine folks at Image. This special gives a sampling of the titular hero and his assorted recurring characters and does a great job whetting one’s appetite for more. Kudos Image.