Comic Picks By The Glick

Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm

December 17, 2011

I didn’t buy this one.  My dad is a big fan of the TV series “Castle” and when he saw this graphic novel featured prominently in an episode earlier this season, he decided to pick it up himself.  After he was done, I gave it a read to see what it was like.  Overall, it wasn’t bad, but I was glad that I didn’t spend my money on it.

“Deadly Storm” doesn’t involve any of the characters of the TV series, directly at least.  In a meta-twist, this is billed as a graphic novel adaptation of Richard Castle’s first (fictitional) Derrick Storm novel.  We’re introduced to Storm as a down-on-his-luck private eye investigating marital infidelity at a trailer park which goes badly, but has the side effect of getting him recruited by the C.I.A. to help find a rogue agent from their organization.  In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, this turns out to be the tip of the iceberg in a decades-old affair involving laundered money from the Iran/Contra scandal.

Now let me digress a bit to explain why I didn’t pick this up myself despite the involvement of one of my favorite mainstream writers, Brian Michael Bendis.  Generally I’ll pick up anything he does on sight, or at least when it reaches softcover, but the fact is that he wasn’t the only writer involved in this graphic novel.  I have nothing against Kelly Sue DeConnick, but she has yet to write anything to get my attention in the way that Bendis has over the years.  Plus, when I see their names on the cover like that, I immediately think the collaboration went something like “story by Bendis, script by DeConnick” which would make me less inclined to pick it up since the latter’s strengths are best seen in his dialogue.

Inside the book, however, they’re both credited as “writers” so I’m inclined to think that their work was a bit more complicated than that.  Something along the lines of each of them handling individual scenes themselves, or even collaborating on every page of the script together.  That I doubt, but the end result does read a lot like Bendis’ usual style and it fits well with the characters here.  Storm’s rambling inner monologues convey a nice mixture of self-doubt to counterbalance his outward bravado, and his banter with agent Clara Strike is top-notch most of the time.

The story itself doesn’t have a whole lot of depth as the rogue agents are mainly developed through other people’s exposition and Storm himself comes off as more of an “involved spectator” than an active participant in these events.  That said, it gets by well enough on charm that you won’t mind too much.  For better or for worse, the whole endeavor feels like the pilot for the kind of entertainingly lightweight action series that were a staple of 80’s TV.  Not really “MacGyver” in terms of content, but certainly in terms of tone.

I find it interesting that two separate teams of artists provided the art for this graphic novel.  You’d think that being freed from the constraints of having to put out an issue every month would remove the need for any kind of “fill-in,” but that’s not the case here.  My best guess is that they were under a deadline to get this out in time for it to be on sale when the episode which featured it aired.  In any event, Lan Medina and Scott Hanna provide the breakdowns and finishes for the majority of the book, with Tom Raney and Dan Green picking up the slack for the rest.  There’s a good amount of consistency between their styles, so most readers probably won’t notice unless they’re actively looking for differences.  Overall, the art is solid with expressive characters and clear storytelling.  None of it here is particularly memorable, but it gets the job done well enough.

“Deadly Storm” also contains a number of supplements that will mainly appeal to fans of the series.  There are a few “script page to comics page” examples, summaries of other Richard Castle books in print, and brief descriptions of his other Derrick Storm novels.  There are quite a few, and the afterword in the back gives me the impression that we’ll be seeing more “adaptations” of other Storm novels.  After reading this one, I’d be amenable to it.  If not in hardcover, then at least in softcover, or even half-off at Comic-Con.  Okay, so that last bit was probably a bit mean, but though I enjoyed it this book was nothing more than lightweight disposable fun that I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for.

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