Submitted for your approval: J. Michael Strazynski. A hard-working writer whose resume stretches across film, TV, comics, and more. The man who gave us Babylon 5, and whose online interactions with fans have been ongoing since before most of the public even knew what the hell an “internet” was. A man whose career keeps surging forward, but which will now carry him back into his own past…and into The Twilight Zone.
Last week, leading up to the annual San Diego Comic-Con, Dynamite Comics made an announcement that didn’t seem to get as much attention as it deserves. Dynamite and Straczynski are going to launch a new expedition into The Twilight Zone, this time in comics form. JMS is signed on for 12 issues, made up of three four-issue arcs. There are no artist announcements yet, so it remains to be seen if one artist will handle the entire run, or if each arc might be tackled by a different artist.
Straczyski spoke to Comic Book Resources and provided a few details about what we can expect from this new Zone. There have been many Twilight Zone incarnations over the years, and the original series is just as powerful now as it was when it originally aired. Straczynski says that comes down to the fact that many of the themes explored by Serling’s show are timeless and universal:
I think that many, if not all of the themes of the original Zone are as current now as they were then. Our longing for the past balanced against our fear of the future, our remorse over our failures and our hopes for success, our willingness to risk throwing everything away on a bet…as a species, we really haven’t changed much since the original run of the Zone. The trappings, the technology, the social milieu have changed, but we are who we are as human beings, and it’s that emotional core which The Twilight Zone speaks to.
As we mentioned above, this excursion into territory blazed by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling from 1959 – 1964 will be a bit of deja vu for Straczynski. After working on early ‘80s animated series such as He-Man and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors (remember them?), Straczynski served as a writer and story editor on the excellent and underrated Twilight Zone resurrection that ran from 1986 – 1989. He was in excellent company on that series, writing alongside the likes of Farscape’s Rockne O’Bannon, Game of Thrones’ George R.R. Martin, “Trouble with Tribbles” writer David Gerrold, and the legendary Harlan Ellison.
Apparently Dynamite approached JMS about working on the series, and being a lifelong fan and veteran Zone explorer, he jumped at the chance to explore Serling’s series in comic form, even though he admits there were challengers in shifting from one format to the other. “The architecture and marketing of comics leans more toward ongoing stories than done-in-ones,” says the writer. Dynamite already had the idea for doing several four-issue arcs when they approached Straczynski, and he teases that, while the arcs will stand on their own, there may also be some overarching narrative between them all that isn’t immediately apparent.
As for what the actual stories will be about, JMS gives us a few details without really spoiling anything:
One concerns a father’s decade-long search for the men who killed his son, and [he] can’t get past it. He hires a PI to take one last shot at the investigation, which leads to a twist in time itself. Another story is about a young woman who begins having flashes of a future that may involve nuclear destruction, a destiny that only she can prevent, if she’s up to the job, and the sacrifice involved. The third story is about a Wall Street exec who needs to disappear from his life to avoid prison, and goes farther than he could possibly have anticipated.
Straczynskis’s comic isn’t the only Twilight Zone project in the works. There’s a movie in development at Warner Bros., said to involve time travel, and Bryan Singer is trying to resurrect it in its original form, as an anthology TV series.
There is no word yet when the Twilight Zone comic series will release, but we’ll keep you posted.