Here’s another 5 great movie adaptations. I’ve included some obvious choices and a few surprises.
I cut my teeth of the Star Wars: New Hope adaptation and still have all 3 Treasuries (the pt. 1, the pt.2 and the combined edition), but looking back I can see how the Empire Strikes Back adaptation is, like the film, the best of the trilogy. It is available in a few different formats, but my favorite is the nice, glossy version published in magazine for Marvel Comics Super Special #16. Archie Goodwin’s script is very lean, and it feels better paced than the first adaptation. This story serves as further proof that Al Williamson is a god, and I only wish that he didn’t more pencil work during the 70s and 80s. I’ve got to give props to Carlos Garzon, who served as Williamson’s assistant on the artwork. It’s lush and gorgeous. The inking is beautiful, and the muted colors really help to establish the atmosphere.
Can you imagine Wally Wood bringing Raquel Welch and Donald Pleasance to life in the 4 Color World? Well, it happened. Chances are you’ve passed right by this adaptation of Fantastic Voyage at a convention and failed to pick it up. That’s too bad, because this is an excellent adaptation of the 60s sci-fi ‘inner space’ classic. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that it’s a really fun premise, and a perfect fit for Wally Wood (and his assistant(s) – mostly likely Dan Adkins). If you now the film well, you’ll notice that some scenes have been omitted and that there is a new final scene. This may not be the best example of Wally Wood’s artwork (I was shocked by many curves he removed from Raquel Welch), but it’s an awesome book, and a very affordable Silver Age treat. I’m certain that I got my copy for under $5.
I’ll admit that nostalgia, and a love of kitsch, plays a role in my love for the Power Records adaptation of Escape From the Planet of the Apes. I owned 3 of these Book & Record sets as a kid I listened to them over and over again. Escape From POTA is my favorite because of the reverse ‘fish out of water’ theme element. The record clocks in at something like 12 minutes, so all of the fat has to be trimmed from the story, to the point where Sal Mineo’s Dr. Milo is completely omitted. The story and art for this comic are credited to Arvid Knudsen and Associates. Does anyone know anything about that shop? They do a fantastic job, and the pacing is perfectly in synch with the story on the record. The Marvel adaptation is also very, very strong and I have no complaints with it, but this Power Records version still hits all the right spots for me.
X, the Man with the X-Ray Eyes is a movie that is all kinds of awesome. It is a very visually inventive Roger Corman flick with a rather over the top performance by Oscar winner Ray Milland. For the comic book adaptation, the folks at Western Publishing make a good call by assigning Frank Thorne to the project. Paul S. Newman’s script is pretty standard fair, but Thorne adds so much to the story by finding ways to translate the ‘x-ray’ effect to the comic book page. My favorite scene is Thorne’s depiction of what Dr. Xavier sees when he looks up through the apartment building. It’s unlike anything I’d ever seen in comics before and requires an artist with a boundless creativity. I’ve raved about this one elsewhere, so do yourself a favor and pick it up.
Finally, I can’t talk about great comic book adaptations without mentioning the treasury-sized MGM’s Marvelous Wizard of Oz; a Marvel/DC co-production. This is comic books done on a grand scale, and John Buscema was the perfect choice as penciller. Roy Thomas’s script is very strong, and he and Big John really seem to keep up with both the tone and pacing of the film. I’m not normally a huge fan of ink jobs by ‘The Tribe’, but there is some decent consistency here. There are many wonderful moments in this comic, but I think my favorite is the understated page where Dorothy opens the door to discover the techni-colored world of Oz. I think a reprint of this book would sell nicely via the bookstore market – but I imagine it’s a legal quagmire.
So, there you have it: 10 very strong and very entertaining comic book adaptations of movies. There are many other good ones, so I’ll likely revisit this topic at a later date.
For more comic book nonsense, stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent
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