Marvel has released several hardcover adaptations from the Derrick Storm series by famed writer Richard Castle, but now they’re taking it a step further by creating a miniseries based on one of the stories: Richard Castle’s A Calm Before Storm – A Derrick Storm Mystery. For those that aren’t in the know, Richard Castle is a fictitious writer portrayed by Nathan Fillion on the ABC TV show Castle. The show revolves around a mystery writer who ended his run with his long-time character Derrick Storm and took on the challenge to write a new series, which is where the TV show comes into play. ABC has done a great job on making associated media a strong component of this franchise – even to go so far as to publish mystery novels written by Richard Castle surrounding the new character he is writing, Nicki Heat – but since they made the decision to not go backwards and create the Derrick Storm novels the comics medium was the way to go. And why not? ABC is owned by Disney, and Marvel is also owned by Disney, so this is a partnership made in… well, Disneyland.
This comic adaptation of Richard Castle’s novel is written by none other than Peter David. Many of you will know David from such endeavors as The Incredible Hulk, Young Justice, and a currently ongoing stint at writing X-Factor. He is also the creator of a number of novels, especially within the Star Trek universe. By using David, Marvel has done something that it needed in order to bring this “novel” to life: get a writer who is both familiar with novel writing and comic writing to come up with a story that can bridge that gap. (Yes, I’ve already established that it’s not a real novel, but it’s supposed to be and so you need SOME kind of foundation for that.)
The artwork is done by Robert Atkins whose style really (to me anyways) fleshes with the TV series. I know the comic itself does not reflect the actual Castle series, but it’s not done over the top and actually still manages to have some depth to it. It’s not the best art I’ve seen for a TV adaptation (sorry, but IDW’s Star Trek / Doctor Who crossover established itself as amazing art) but since it’s not an actual adaptation, per se, and since there are no actors to base the visuals on, there can be some concessions here. Although some of the images look a little too.. blocky (such as the splash page introducing the TV series… More on that in a bit.)
It’s hard to go into too much detail on the plot as this is just the first issue. The title page of the book sets the tone, though, so you can get a partial expectation of where you are at with the characters as the story begins:
[quote]Derrick Storm was a reasonably successful private investigator who occasionally consulted with the C.I.A. until… Well… You’ll see.[/quote]
The character of Storm is taking life day by day on his new yacht after selling his detective business. He has, more-or-less, retired from the mystery life and just wants to take it easy. That works to a point, although the intrusion of his father into his life consistently and bemoaning him for giving up his business as well as a murder occurring boatside to his new yacht changes things pretty quickly. But who bought his detective agency? A billionaire detective named Jack Palace who turned the agency into a celebrity P.I. firm to go along with his successful TV series, Palace. (No, not Castle, but Palace. Which is in it’s fourth season, has some books out and a few graphic novels… Nothing that we, the readers, have ever seen or heard of before, right?)
The murder takes place with a severed head floating in a bag next to Storm’s boat. Storm calls in the cops, who immediately begin to suspect him. His friends in the C.I.A. show up to intervene, though, and keep him out of trouble. But then his dad, a former cop, shows up and almost gets himself arrested. After seeing the head, though, and a symbol burnt into his face which the cops take as a swastika. The dead guy is Russian and it appears the Germans are responsible… although appearances are deceiving. The individual responsible for this death has a strong tie to the elder Storm: he killed his wife, Derrick Storm’s mother.
And, if I was watching this on TV, I would now hear the opening music to Castle at this point. Yes, this issue seemed like the act before the first commercial break in an episode of the show. It was very well done, and Peter David even had some fun with it. If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you’ll love the small reference to when the TV Jack Palace is attacked by an Egyptian who has been lying in a sarcophagus for a number of years. You’ll both laugh and cringe a little when reading the bad puns coming out of the detective’s mouth who interviews Storm… just before he puts on his dark sunglasses. (Horatio Kane, anyone? I could almost hear the C.S.I. Miami theme in my head as I read that page…) Yes, David made a few nods to some other franchises he likes and that’s why he was a great choice for this story. Like the show, it doesn’t take itself too seriously but still manages to get some intrigue into the mix.
Although just the first issue, I enjoyed it. I will say it’s not the best book I read this week, but it was a fun read. Although I like the idea of a Derrick Storm miniseries, I think this title was too much like the show and that does not translate well to comics at times. This was a single act, the first sequence before the commercial. But that act is not generally enough to stand on its own two feet – I think it needs the full “episode” to feel complete. I’ll reserve judgement until #2, but at this point I may almost recommend waiting until the trade is out or pick up all of the issues but not reading them until the miniseries is complete.