Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review : The Remaining : from Kingstone Media

PLEASE NOTE: I Received a copy of the graphic novel for review purposes.

The Remaining
from Kingstone Media

Kingstone Media released The Remaining last month to coincide with the theatrical debut of the film of the same name. From what I gathered in the book’s credits, the Kingstone team completed the comic as an adaptation of the original screenplay by Casey La Scala rather than the film version, which La Scala also co-directed. Since I cannot speak to the original screenplay nor the movie, I will review the book on its own merits and faults; however, I should note that the adaptation completed by Roland Mann may suffer from limitations over which he had no control. Therefore, I am also giving the book a bit of grace regarding some of my critiques.

But enough for qualifiers. Let me just lay the verdict on the table: The Remaining is good—not great but good. The story moves well, focuses on characters over clutter, and offers a fair share of surprises. Vast in scope yet small in canvas, the events that impact our characters also affect the whole world, but we never leave the presence of our core ensemble. The book offers a few good surprise turns, one specifically I had not considered but made all the sense in the world, leading me to one of those “duh” moments. In fact, I called the outcomes wrong on more than one occasion, thinking I’d be getting one thing then almost immediately getting another, and I like when that happens (so long as the unexpected is an appropriate choice for the story).  So, that’s “the good”.

"The bad" is that The Remaining suffers from two failures. It fails to ask larger questions or pose counter theories. Once things go awry, one character thinks its Biblical; and within a few pages, everyone is on board. I would have preferred alternative viewpoints creating tension, perhaps that the antagonistic creatures are government experiments or the result of an alien attack. The overall ending would have been stronger if the final panel confirmed which of the various theories was true. Of course, I would not want to judge a work for what it is not rather than what it is.  But The Remaining is a little light on scares--not surprises, per se, but real terror. There’s a fair amount of talking in this book, which led to a lull in a few areas where I forgot about the larger dilemma. Not a huge issue given that the story still moves, but I would have liked a more consistent feeling of tread the entire time. So there’s "the bad".

And what would the good and bad be without "the ugly"? If The Remaining has one glaring fault it’s that the three male leads are practically indistinguishable. In fact, from panel to panel, I could not tell them apart except for when they addressed one another by name. Granted, the different wardrobe at the wedding helped with this, but once the men were all down to black slacks and t-shirts, each looks like a generic white guy, which is a bummer because they did not need to be--not in this story (and particularly not in a comic format).

All that said, The Remaining is equal to most standalone indie books you’ll find—no better, no worse. It’s a bit more heavy-handed than I’d prefer, but nuance in any medium is difficult. If nothing else, the comic has now gotten me interested in the film, which I assume is half the reason it exists; and in that alone, its goal has been achieved.  Because of the aforementioned limitations placed on Kingstone, I am going to lean more toward a favorable review than a negative one. This is not their best work, but it’s an adequate entertainment that one could read in an hour or so.  Want to give it a shot? It's now available on Amazon.

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