Home > Marvel Comics > The Stand: No Man’s Land #2

The Stand: No Man’s Land #2

April 1, 2011

Creative Director: Stephen King
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Mike Perkins
Color Art:
Laura Martin
Rus Wooton
Tomm Coker & Laura Martin
Ralph Macchio
Marvel Comics

The Boulder Free Zone Committee has decided to send spies to the west, to Las Vegas, to report back on the workings of Randall Flagg. This issue, three of the chosen spies prepare to go west, while Nadine and Harold both make decisions about their own fate.

This issue really is very good to demonstrate both what’s great about this series and what’s awful about it. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has really done an admirable job capturing the feeling of the novel. The tension, the desperation is palpable here. Mike Perkins and Laura Martin make it even better, with wonderfully dark scenes for Nadine and an absolutely spine-tingling smile on the part of the Judge when he accepts his own assignment. In fact, I’d rank the scenes with the judge in general right up there with some of the best pages of Stephen King’s work yet transcribed to the comic book medium, and I don’t just mean in this series.

But still… still there are times when the scripter just can’t trust the artwork and dialogue to tell the story and hits us with totally unnecessary captions. This issue may, in fact, have the worst example of that since this series began in the scene where the men of the Free Zone Committee speak to a hypnotized Tom Cullen. The mood here is perfect. Tom, under the spell of the hypnosis, clearly isn’t exactly the Tom we all know and love, and the agony the men feel over what they’re asking him to do is very real. We believe entirely that they love him too, and they’re gutting themselves over what they’re asking him to do. Then, right after Tom makes a particularly sobering statement, we get a panel of Stu Redman, wincing, and pressing on with his instructions. The beginning of the panel? A caption. That reads, “Wincing, Stu pressed on.”

There isn’t a word, a syllable, a letter in that caption that’s necessary to tell the story. The artwork displays it perfectly, and the caption just feels silly and redundant, and it yanks you right out of one of the best moments this book has ever had. Then, in the last panel of the page, the same thing happens again. Since we’ve already been jarred out of the story, it’s not as bad the second time, but that’s only because we’ve yet to find our way back.

There’s so much good here, but that one niggling detail keeps eating away at me. I suppose it’s not something that will be corrected in the time we’ve got left with these characters, but to me, it’s always going to stand out as the thing that prevented Marvel’s adaptation of The Stand from being a truly great piece of work.

Rating: 7/10

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