Those of you who may follow my work (yes, I’m looking at you, Mom) are aware that I am an unofficial expert on ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space.’ I have a copy of Ed Wood’s original script, which I am using as the basis for my in-progress novelization of the original film, and have also previously written about the film here on the site. I was an Associate Producer of the ‘Plan 9’ remake from director John Johnson and Darkstone Entertainment that released a few years ago, and I was also able to visit the set of the film for a weekend and actually got to be in the movie as the “Ed Wood Tribute Zombie,” a pink-wearing, cross-dressing member of the undead horde.
So it is always with a certain sense of appreciative apprehension that I approach the discovery of new ‘Plan 9’-related projects. While I love the fact that Wood’s 1959 so-bad-it’s-good film can still garner interest from fans and creators alike, the movie’s public-domain status means that literally anyone can put out anything with the ‘Plan 9’ name on it, regardless of how much or how little they truly care about the integrity of the world created by Wood in his film. Let’s face it: some folks are just out to make a quick buck, and nothing says “easy money” like slapping the name of a well-recognized project on a steaming pile of crap that took no time, talent, or effort to create.
I’m sad to report that this is the case with Bluewater Comics’ 2009 one-shot graphic novel “Plan 9 from Outer Space Strikes Again!” I picked this book up because I had hopes that someone on the project actually cared about (or may have at least seen) the original film, but I can tell you pretty definitively that’s’ not true. The “plot” (and I use that term VERY loosely) of this book is as follows: purportedly taking place in the universe established by the film and set 50 years after those events, the aliens return… for some reason. Haphazard, extremely localized mayhem ensues – and not the fun, entertaining kind of mayhem, the random kind that doesn’t really make sense to anyone reading this story. Oh, and there are some random zombies in there too. So, yeah, that’s about it for the plot synopsis of this one.
Here is a brief list of the most terrible things about this book. If you have any desire to read this comic, you’ll want to skip this bullet-list section; also, you’ll want to have your head checked by a professional of some type.
- The inside front cover states: “In respect for the film ‘PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE,’ we have tried to make ED WOOD proud. In the original film you will notice a bunch of mistakes such as seeing a boom Mic in some of the shots. We have made some mistakes in this comic. Think of it as an interactive comic book!” Um, no, I’ll think of it as an excuse to be cheap and careless. It’s one thing to make a story that’s intentionally bad so that it’s funny and entertaining as a result, but this story is neither funny nor entertaining, it’s… just… bad.
- Page one starts with an introduction from The Amazing Criswell, and I can appreciate the attempt at the tie-in to the movie here… except Criswell says “Fifty years ago, the unspeakable occurred.” Well, for one thing, it’s not unspeakable, because Criswell talks about it at length as he narrates the entire original movie. For another thing: on this page, they drew Criswell EXACTLY as he looked in the original film that took place “fifty years ago;” is he immortal?
- Also on the first page (geez, we’re still on the first page of this thing?), a woman comes home as she sees a group of children walking up to her door to trick-or-treat – this story takes place on Halloween, I’m assuming. Anywho, she puts on a slutty Vampira-esque costume and proceeds to shove her barely-covered breasts right in the kids’ faces as she answers the door. Classy.
- In the very next panel, with no exposition whatsoever, we see the fully-intact and rather alive-looking Inspector Daniel Clay (played by Tor Johnson in the original film) pop out of his grave. Not only has he not decomposed at all in the last 50 years, he was also turned into a bare-bones skeleton at the end of the original Plan 9, but neither of these facts seem to bother the editor of this book too much.
- A prototypical nerd and his mother somehow have the fully-working version of both a communication device and the original “decomposer ray” from Eros’ alien spaceship; only problem with this is, that spaceship blew up and was shown to utterly disintegrate at the end of the original movie. Sigh.
- On the next page, a random military scientist in some top-secret installation somewhere is working hard on a Solaronite bomb (while watching the original Plan 9 film on two different TVs in the lab – isn’t this story supposed to be set in that world, though?). Addressing the aliens rhetorically, he says “This time it will be you, followers of Eros, who will pay attention!” The aliens were definitely not followers of Eros; Eros was simply a commander of one of their starships, and he died at the end of the film so he couldn’t have been that great of a commander.
I could literally go on and on with the mistakes; the ones I noted above all happened in the first four pages of the book. I’ll spare you the drivel from the remaining 27 pages; just know that they are all as bad, if not more so than what I’ve already detailed to you.
If you couldn’t figure it out by my rhetoric above, this book offers very little in the way of entertainment value to anyone. ‘Plan 9’ fans may take some slight pleasure in seeing some of the characters and situations from the original movie used, but anyone who isn’t intimately familiar with Wood’s film is just going to be utterly lost. Truly, it’s as if some intern for Bluewater Comics watched the movie and wrote down a list of “notable” concepts and commonly-used words from the original story, then the writers of this book (who shall remain nameless because I’m trying really really hard to be nice) was made to create this story around those pieces, like some terribly-backward version of a Mad Libs. It’s Ed Wood regurgitation, and we all know how awesome puke looks.
As noted in minute detail in the bullet-point section above, nothing makes sense, both in the individual scenes via the actions of the characters and in the grand scheme of the story on the whole. There just not much else to say here, really; nothing makes sense, nothing is realistic, and it all sucks. I will award a few points for the visual aesthetic of the comic book, because the artwork is above-average, and penciller Giovanni Timpano should get some credit for that, even if he was forced to draw some terrible, terrible things (why did the nerdy middle-aged man have to stick his face right into the bosom of his extreme-wrestler mother, REALLY?). He definitely didn’t have much by way of actual story to work with, and no amount of editing could have done anything to help this book. To add insult to injury, the cover features multiple characters and situations that never appear in the book, adding to the feel that Bluewater was really just out to dupe consumers into buying their junk.
There is absolutely nothing of actual entertainment value here. Being a hard-core ‘Plan 9’ fan is the only thing that’s stopping me from throwing this book in the trashcan right now; I’ll keep it in my collection, but I’ll never read it again, and I’d advise you to steer well clear of it as well.