For many years now, Dean Koontz has been a mainstay on shelves and bestseller lists. His books traditionally are classified as “thrillers,” an amalgam of horror and mystery. Unlike the books of his supernatural based rival and friend Stephen King, Koontz’s stories feel like they could happen to you or your friends, despite their extreme nature.
So when I say that “Nevermore” has time travelers, alternate universes, and a legion of evil baddies out to destroy everything, the story rings far more of King then Koontz. Looks like King is rubbing off on him in another big way. Since the success of big name writers like King, Brad Meltzer and Orson Scott Card have had with the comic book industry, a lot of people are jumping on ship.
And that is what we have here: Koontz’s second collaboration with Dabel Brothers Publishing, this time with an original story. The first time around, they worked on Dean Koontz’s “Frankenstein,” but now put out a new story, different from Dean’s familiar ground. But did Dean step out too far from his comfort zone for “Nevermore?”
We will never know. And that is the biggest problem with the preview I received. While the cover has Koontz’s name in a font almost as big as the title, and Koontz’s name being listed with the other creative crew on the bottom of the cover, the first page reveals that Koontz is only listed under “creator” but isn’t on the writing team at all. I know a lot of big authors do this for comic books, but normally their name is attached to it because it is an adaptation or continuation of a previous work. I understand Koontz’s name is put in billboard sized letters to try and sell the book, but when he has so little to do with the overall product, it puts me off.
As I feared, his name is the fancy garnish put to cover a chewy steak. To my understanding, the plot revolves around a group of people following a billionaire around different alternate realities, as he tries to find a version of his wife who wasn’t struck down by cancer. Then he accidentally leads a group of inter dimensional destroyers to our universe. Seems a bit too Sliders for me, but the plot seems solid enough. However, the dialogue is horrid. It is stiff and cheesy. This feels more like a bad science fiction movie from the 80s put onto paper, rather than a Koontz book. I would have really liked to see Koontz get his hands deep into this, and actually work on some of these lines. Perhaps he would have breathed some life into this farce of his name.
The one aspect I was looking forward to was Andy Smith’s art. However, like Koontz’s misleading name, Andy’s art seems like a bastardized version of his normal work. I don’t know if he phoned it in for a paycheck or it was destroyed by the inker or colorist. Either way, it lacked any soul and the details were overpowered by thick lines. The backgrounds look plain and boring and the characters look like they were drawn by a John Cassaday wannabee, which Andy Smith isn’t. Somewhere along the line, there was a misstep and it cost this book greatly.
I know it was just a 10 page preview, but previews are meant to drum up talk and to give the readers a reason to go by the book. This did the opposite. They gave nothing for the reader to be excited about, leaving the protagonists trapped by guys dressed up like techno-crawfish. That is not what gets people to go out and spend money on your book.
To Mr. Koontz: get involved in writing or editing, or else your name is merely a brand. As of right now, this is simply a skeleton of what might have been. I salute you, for bringing your stories to a new medium, but you should really bring them there yourself.
To the reader: flip through the book at your local comic book store, and if looks like something you like, pick it up. I will never disparage smaller companies from putting out books and treading new ground, but this just looks like a quick cash grab, and is dragging Dean Koontz’s name through the mud to do it. “Nevermore” won’t get my money, and hopefully Dabel Brothers raise standards in the future.