Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone, like many popular television shows, has comic book spin-offs. Gold Key Comics wrote a Twilight Zone spin-off comic for 20 years following the release of Rod Serling's show. It was far from the only run of comics, however, as over the years several comic books emerged to pick up the mantle of Rod Serling's original.
But which do you read? How do you know which comics to take a look at? While there are decades worth of comics to sort through, this guide should help cut some of the fat away to allow you access to the essentials. These are the stories you need to immerse yourself in a realm of sight and sound. Before Jordan Peele's revival, take a look at these comics about The Twilight Zone.
8 Gold Key's Twilight Zone Comics
Gold Key ran a Twilight Zone spin-off comic for twenty years following the release of the original television series. It even outlived series creator Rod Serling for a decade before finally folding. The issues are less common than other comics you can read; they are not available on ComiXology, for example.
However, with that said, the comics are of variable quality. Often the writers are not credited. Many, however, are either adaptations of popular episodes of the original series or based on unused scripts by Rod Serling himself. Reading these does remind you more of the old '50s pulps at times than the original series.
7 Walker & Son Twilight Zone Comics
In 2008, publisher Walker & Son released several Twilight Zone spin-off comics of their own. They ran primarily as one-shots, each comic adapting another episode of the Twilight Zone series. As they are all spin-offs, most of them told familiar stories for those interested in reading the stories rather than seeing them.
As such, the comics themselves are not particularly distinct. If you have seen the episodes they're based on, you've essentially experienced a better version of the story. As such, it's hard to recommend them.
6 J Michael Straczynski's The Twilight Zone
This modern comic spin-off of The Twilight Zone is penned by none other than J Michael Straczynski — the man behind Babylon 5 and the masterful 2000s run of The Amazing Spider-Man. JMS approaches the series as a fan, and, as such, writes a terrific tribute to The Twilight Zone.
This series ran for 18 issues and was sorted into three volumes. Each volume tells a different story in the style of The Twilight Zone. As such, they're worth checking out if you want to read a comic based on Rod Serling's saga. It feels a lot like what Jordan Peele's revival will end up being: a loving send-up to a classic series, which brings us to our next entry...
5 J Michael Straczynski's The Twilight Zone Vol. 1
Special note is given here due to the comic's place on ComiXology Unlimited. It is free to subscribers of the service, and, thus, a valued read if you're interested in reading comics on a budget.
The comic features a story of war-paranoia. Of all of Straczynski's run, it feels the most akin to what Rod Serling would write about. As such, if you have to read one Twilight Zone comic, read this one.
4 The Twilight Zone: 1959
This particular volume collects three tales within it; each one written by a different writer. It exists as a tribute to the early years of The Twilight Zone, as Rod Serling released the first episode of the series back in 1959. While the comic doesn't exactly capture the exact spirit of the original series—with its modern, colorful art and exaggerated details—it reads in the style of said early episodes, especially with karmic punishments awaiting people who "break the rules."
What makes this most interesting is that it's a relatively short read, being a one-shot. It's a work all its own, and exists as a masterful tribute to the original series as seen through the lens of multiple writers. Worth your time.
3 The Twilight Zone: The Lost Tales
Another tribute comic, this one also contains multiple tales of mystery, though, unlike the previous ones, it presents itself as lost tales of The Twilight Zone. As such, you'd expect it to feel more akin to the original in tone. However, while it is never bad, you can always tell these aren't just lost Rod Serling scripts.
RELATED: Twilight Zone: 1959
That doesn't mean it's bad, however. It's a solid one-shot that should scratch the itch of anyone looking for spin-off comics to enjoy leading up to Jordan Peele's revival.
2 The Twilight Zone/The Shadow
The Shadow was another classic series from the early 20th Century. The Shadow was a pulp noir detective, serving as the inspiration behind such characters as Batman. Dynamite Comics, which released many of the comics in this list, owned the intellectual properties to each, and, as such, released this crossover.
It reads like another adventure of The Shadow more than as a story from The Twilight Zone. The only key difference is that it is a surreal speculative narrative. Then again, unlike The Shadow, The Twilight Zone doesn't have distinct characters or iconography beyond Rod Serling and that opening theme. So, as an effective crossover, it doesn't feel distinct.
But as a pulp adventure? It's a solid story. Just don't go in expecting material that will leave you hyped for Jordan Peele's revival series. That really isn't the point of this mini-series.
1 The Twilight Zone: Shadow & Substance
Another outing by Dynamite Comics, The Twilight Zone: Shadow & Substance offers two tales spread across four issues, each one in the style of The Twilight Zone. They feel like noir narratives framed through the nightmarish world of imagination made iconic by Rod Serling.
Despite being overshadowed by JMS's run on The Twilight Zone, this series is very solid. It offers longer-form stories that feel very personal and grim. It's one of the darkest and bleakest of the Twilight Zone spin-off comics, and, as such, is worth a read. The whole series is collected under one volume and feels like a solid one-two punch of sci-fi stories.
In the end, it is important to remember that none of these comics can be a better substitute for The Twilight Zone than the original masterpiece series. Rod Serling, in a few years, managed to offer subversive tales of shock and horror in ways no one had seen before. Whether or not Jordan Peele's upcoming series satisfies the itch fans have been craving for years is irrelevant. The original saga remains to be celebrated. And that's proof that we have only just begun to dip our toes in that foreign shore known only as The Twilight Zone.