I Am Legend: Awakening review

The I Am Legend promotional juggernaut includes giving out free PDF comics. Ron checks 'em out...

Will Smith in I Am Legend

To further sell the upcoming movie I Am Legend, which I doubt no one here has heard of, considering I only see the commercial every 15 minutes on television, Warner Brothers has launched a promotional comic book with the help of Vertigo featuring six stories set in the I Am Legend continuity, detailing the stories of other survivors. It’s a free comic book, which makes it one of the nicer freebies ever made available for the general public for a movie launch, though not as good as the Night Watch poster or the Ravenous beef jerky sticks I got once.

I Am Legend: Awakening contains five stories: “Losing Voice: Ethan’s Story” by Steve Niles and Bill Sienkiewicz; “Death as a Gift” and “Sacrificing the Few for the Many” by Dawn Thomas and Jason Chan; “Isolation” by Mark Protosevich and David Levy; and “Fighting Change” by Richard Christian Matheson (that name sounds familiar…) and David Levy. Three of these stories, “Losing Voice,” “Death as a Gift,” and “Sacrificing the Few for the Many,” are available as PDF versions on the I Am Legend website, which is how I’m reading them as we speak.

“Losing Voice,” written by 30 Days of Night scribe Steve Niles, is the most traditional and comic-book-looking of the three releases online. It has a narrative, which is nice, but… it’s done in such an unpleasant-looking style that I’m immediately turned off. Rather than colored as a traditional comic, this takes a background page (black and red and green… kind of camouflage but more busy and distractible) and paints over it in off-white blobs. The shade and shadows are formed by the background (which shows through the entire picture, even if just slightly), and contributes to making the whole thing look busy and distracting. The one neat thing the comic does is, as the story progresses and the sun sinks lower and lower in the horizon, the background darkens and becomes slightly less annoying.

Still, it’s incredibly cliché.

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“Death as a Gift” has none of the problems of “Losing Voice.” Whereas Dr. Robert Neville is the last survivor of New York City, Jinghua Xu is the last surviving person in Hong Kong. This portion of the comic, jarringly, looks as though it was painted rather than colored. It’s beautiful, stark, and features what is probably the most plausible ending for a lone survivor in any apocalypse-type situation. There are no words spoken, since most people don’t talk to themselves when they’re all alone, and only a few narrative speech bubbles. The story is told solely through images, and while short, is at least nice to look at.

“Sacrificing the Few for the Many” is also done in painted style (which you’d expect since it has the same artist as “Death as a Gift”) and is also very pretty to look at. Rather than color, this one is in black, white, and vibrant red. It takes place in either some sort of survivor research center, a quarantine camp, or the South American jungle. I can’t really tell, and the comic isn’t incredibly helpful since there are absolutely no words, no set-up, or nothing to help me make sense of what’s going on, other than vague images.

It’s a mixed bag. I can’t rate the other two stories in the book, because I can’t find the bloody thing, but if I had to guess I’d say the Dawn Lewis wordless segments serve as interstitial bumpers for the meatier, comic-book parts of the story. Niles is a comic book writer, Matheson is a writer-writer, and Protosevich is the main screenwriter for the film, so I’d imagine their parts are the parts that go into greater detail and give us more information, which makes it a curious decision to feature the Thomas chunks, both of which are 4 pages long, so prominently.

Then I looked at the credits of the book and saw she was in charge of putting the whole project together. Oh. Right. That makes sense now.

Ron Hogan is president of the Vincent Price Fan Club. Not really, but he does like Vincent Price a great deal. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics.

Our review of I Am Legend is here.

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