Comic Review: Road Rage #1

Writer: Stephen King and Joe Hill

Adapted by: Chris Ryall

Artist: Nelson Daniel

Plot: A motorcycle club making their way to a business associate’s place to pick up money owed to them is chased by an 18-wheeler.

Review: “Road Rage” was originally written and published for a Richard Matheson tribute anthology. It is written by horror icon, Stephen King, and his son, Joe Hill, in their first collaboration. It is a retelling of Matheson’s classic chase yarn, “Duel,” famous for being one of Steven Spielberg’s first directorial efforts. King and Hill have replaced the average joe with a motorcycle club, The Tribe.

It is categorically Stephen King. Much of King’s descriptive nature is lost in favor of actual art (obviously), but a good portion of his prose is saved for the narration bubbles. The small talk, in usual King fashion, is a little melodramatic and forced, but his ability to introduce exposition through discussion is better than starting all the way at the beginning. He briefly and interestingly presents the past fueled by the passion and emotions of the character skipping a lot of potential set-up space to get to the action quicker.

I have unfortunately never read the Matheson original, but I have seen the Spielberg film. The film’s protagonist is an average joe who was dangerously too close to boring. His whiny panting and “oh boy”-ing was only outdone by his whiny inner monologue. But he did have a cool muscle car. Instead, we have a motorcycle club. From the get-go, that nomad love-of-the-road attitude is tangible. The outlaw archetype that all the characters fit add a much needed edge considering that the villain (in both comic and film) is a faceless truck driver. The only clue to his identity is the “Death Before Dishonor” tattoo that is common with the military. The truck driver adds a level of mystery but leaves a void of personality.  That void is a strategic movie, and the protagonist-antagonist chemistry (or anti-chemistry rather) is much more solid.

We are presented with a group of nine guys, but only 3 of them are really well presented. There is our main protagonist, Vince. He seems like an honor among thieves kind of guy. He is a real lover of the road. He seems to be the only one who really wants to continue and move on from their most recent bit of strife. His major opponent is the young and fool-hardy Race. He has a lot of experience, a former military man and all, but he is missing out on the strategist and survivalist training of the rest of them. Than there is also Lemmy (Motorhead’s Lemmy look-alike) who seems to be a little older than the rest. He is definitely sitting on Vince’s shoulder, it is just too early to know if he’s the angel or the devil. The rest are there as red shirts, unless future issues decide to flesh them out a little more.

The art is overall great. The colors are drab and worn representative of that highwayman lifestyle. There are minimalist lines displaying only the details that need to be detailed, not wasting any ink on minor extra details in the background or any of the characters. They do not hold back on the gore spraying plenty of blood on the asphalt and leaving nothing to the imagination. My only real complaint of the art is the bad shading technique. Shadow is filled in with black dots leaving exposed space between each dot. Some of the wider shots go unnoticed, but the close ups of the faces are major distractions.

“Road Rage” carries with it a lot of clout. It is written by a horror icon and his son (an up and coming horror icon in his own right) paying tribute to another horror icon. It is an introduction that wastes no time getting to the nitty gritty.

Rating: 8/10