Call me crazy but it seems a little strange that IDW is publishing a comic called The Shrinking Man with an insect on the cover at the same time that Marvel is showing off their Ant Man movie. Maybe there’s a hope some might buy their comic thinking it was Ant Man?
Coincidence or not, at the very least it seems like it’s a good marketing ploy for those who wanted to find another shrinking character comic to explore. The thing is this comic is actually based on the classic novel, has nothing really to do with superheroes at all, and might just outdo Ant Man the movie…but is it good?
Shrinking Man #1 (IDW)
I for one am not the biggest fan of adaptations. Typically they cut things that you held dear if you enjoyed the original material, or change too many things and ruin your nostalgic feelings for them. So often the content doesn’t work because it was never intended to take on a different format. That said, there are good examples of adaptations and when done right they tend to nail the essence of the source material while making it work for the new format. I think this comic does this exactly and I was pleasantly surprised how damn entertaining the story was by issue’s end.
I’m sorry you have a framed picture of a cat on the wall?
The man who wrote the original source material is none other than the late Richard Matheson, who is most widely known for I Am Legend. They are most definitely big shoes to fill, but Ted Adams does a great job filling them. The story opens with the year and how tall our shrinking man stands (it’s in the inches). From there we cut to now where he is smaller than a spider, and back again to when he was still tall enough to be considered human.
The balance between the extreme nature of his life when tiny to those months leading up to his shrinking issue help to show that even fighting off black widows wasn’t the most stressful thing he had to deal with. It ties the drama of dealing with his condition and his wife and child to the supernatural side of things very well. It also helps enhance the pace and dramatic effect of our tiny protagonist who only wants to swing himself to some Saltines before he dies of starvation.
The comic also adds some notes at the back explaining the adaptation process and the reasons for certain changes. This is of course a huge boon to those interested in the writing process and there’s some interesting factoids to swallow that are going to make you appreciate this work even more.
Before that though this issue ends on a strong cliffhanger in both the tiny stage with our protagonist all alone and the stage of growing smaller and dealing with his wife. Adams gives us a whopper of an domestic issue before closing on the now and it’s something many men can relate to. It’s about getting smaller and not being able to get any bigger. I’ll leave it to that.
Mark Torres does a great job on art too with some fantastic layouts and great choices to help convey the passage of time as the comic flashes back and forth. The smallest version could have come off as comical, but works due to some nice silhouette shots to enhance the dramatic effect of a freakin’ black widow chasing our protagonist. As the protagonist grows smaller and his family sees him shrinking Torres makes him almost childlike, which might make some snicker or laugh as it’s almost a bit silly. The thing is though, this character is going through a humiliating and emasculating change and it suits the story very well.
Is It Good?
Shrinking Man is a top notch adaptation that feels like a classic pulp comic; the debut features strong adult themes, fantastic pacing and a satisfying sense of drama.