Welcome to the 4th edition of the weekly "From Top to Bottom" column! Every week I will look at something within the comics industry and give you my opinion on what I think is the best and what I think ranks amongst the bottom-feeders.
Last week I took a look at the Top and Bottom of Comic Crossovers. Instead of looking at crossovers that I wanted to see (like I said I would last week) in celebration of the new Indiana Jones movie coming out this week, I will be taking a look at the top and bottom of comic book movie adaptations.
There have been a few adaptations that are worth owning, most others are are sub par at best and others seem to have been so rushed that you can tell that they are only attempting to cash in on the movie's popularity. The biggest problem that movie adaptations are usually one-shots or short mini-series and that means there is little room to go through an entire movie and something is missing. So why should you buy an adaptation you ask? Well, in my case there are a couple of reasons. The biggest is if I am either a huge fan of the movie or a huge fan of the creators involved. Some adaptations are pulled from the original script so they may contain scenes that are not in the movie. A good example of that would be the adaptations of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien and the Empire Strikes Back. We'll see a few of those on this list. And now, on to the Top 3!
This is the adaptation of the first Spider-Man movie. It made the list because I thought it was a decent adaptation of the movie, they really put as much as they could in this and it didn't feel like I missed anything. But the biggest reason I picked this up is certainly because of the creators, Stan Lee and Alan Davis. If you don't know it now, you certainly will learn that Alan Davis is my all-time favorite creator. His art was well worth the pickup. This adaptation felt like the movie.
2)Bram Stoker's Dracula
Not only is it one of my favorite movies, but it was drawn by one of my favorite artists. This 4-issue Topps mini-series adapted Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula by Roy Thomas and with art by Mike Mignola. This is a very faithful adaptation of the movie, Mignola's art was definitely well suited for this book, he captured the same creepiness 'feel' that the movie had.
1)Army of Darkness
Again it is one of my favorite movies along with one of my favorite painters in John Bolton. Based on the actual screenplay by Ivan and Sam Raimi, this follows the original script for Army of Darkness. It includes scenes that were not in theatrical release and includes the apocalyptic ending and not the S-Mart ending. Bolton easily handles the dark, spooky art while staying incredibly true to the characters appearance in the movie. The books follow the script closely and includes most everything that is in the movie, in fact you get a little bit more.
Now some adaptations are just not as good as they could be. Here are my Bottom 3 choices for comic book movie adaptations.
3)Aliens: Newt's Tale
This technically is not an official movie adaptation of the movie Aliens but it is close enough. The series does have some bright spots (which is why it is #3 and not #1), the brightness being we got to see what James Cameron really wanted to include in the theatrical release of Aliens. At the time this 2-issue series came out, we didn't have a Director's Cut of the movie, this was the closest we had. So it was cool to see how the Aliens invaded the community on Acheron and gave a good back story of the young survivor Newt. While the series did start out good, it got progressively got worse. The art suffered (the Aliens didn't look scary) and the last half of the series succumbed to what usually makes adaptations terrible. They crammed as much as they could into it and even changed the story slightly just to accommodate the lack of space.
Now this is about the comic book movie adaptation and not the movie itself! (I am looking in your direction Jon) This adaptation suffered from all the usual problems comic book movie adaptations have. The art was too cartoonish, it was not dark and campy like the movie. The writing missed on some of the better lines in the movie and it just couldn't capture the B-movie feel that the movie had. And again, Dark Horse couldn't fit everything the movie had in the two meager issues they put out. Reading this adaptation pales in comparison to the movie.
1)Return of the Jedi
I was sooo excited when the first issue came out! I had just seen the movie and couldn't wait to read the comic. And this looked like it was phoned in through a rusty old telegraph. The art was scribbling at best, the coloring was completely off, the characters barely looked like they should, it was cluttered and rushed. Marvel had 4 issues to adapt the movie, it still seemed really rushed. The major space fight between the Rebellion and the Empire in space got two panels! Out of all the Star Wars adaptations, this one was the worst.