The Stand: No Man's Land #3

A comic review article by: Shawn Hill
As Frannie and Larry finally find Harold's journal, this issue has me rethinking a lot about Stephen King's epic. Could it be that the main character, out of so many more conventional ones to choose from, is Nadine Cross? Surely her struggle, the consequences of her actions and the reasons she takes them amount to an unfolding tragedy. King could have just created a portrait of a villain, but things aren't so black and white in this most moral of tales. I'm sure Laura San Giacomo did her best in the TV series, but it's really this comic adaption that's cluing me in to just how crucially Nadine enacts and embodies the moral dilemmas facing every character in the story.

Not only has she had two of the best covers in the ongoing series (not this one, though), but she's also the only character to reject Mother Abigail on sight; and is clearly a maverick who has survived thus far due to her own idiosyncratic response to the world around her. She's the Tea Bagger irritant of the group gathered in Boulder -- or she would be if the Dark Man wasn't so intent on terrorizing her, seducing her and manipulating her into allegiance with him.

In this issue she experiences a harrowing scene of psychic attack in an abandoned drive-in theater lot, beautifully lit by the eerie full daylight conjured by Perkins and Martin and creatively lettered by Rus Wooton. Her actions have alternately doomed the townsfolk and given them clues they'll need for protecting themselves. She's the definition of conflicted, and as you begin to see the prices she pays for the path she has chosen, it's almost impossible not to empathize with her struggles, even as you reject or condemn her actions.

That's a compelling character, King's own spin on the femme fatale. Sure, she's Eve and Lilith and every other betraying temptress. But she's also the Magdalene without a redeemer, the Earth Mother with no children to call her own, and one of King's best ever examples of updating a stereotypical role to the detailed specificity not just of the modern day, but of distinctive traits of culture and character, all wound into a tight knot called an individual. Her story, once again, is a tragic one, not least because the battle she's losing is really against herself.

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