Writers: Jim Starlin & Keith Giffen (adapted from a play by Samuel Beckett)
Artists: Jim Starlin (p), Tom Scioli (i)
The ‘tragicomedy’ “Waiting for Godot’, by Samuel Beckett, is adapted into a comic book mini-series by Marvel. This marks the launch of Marvel’s new Art Comics line, which will adapt great literary works and famous plays, much like ‘Classics Illustrated’ adapted famous novels.
“Waiting for Godot” is a 2-act play about two men, Estragon and Vladimir, who wait on a park bench for Mr. Godot. The two bums try to pass the time to alleviate their boredom. “Godot” is considered both tragedy and comedy. The protagonists go to ridiculous lengths to amuse themselves. At the same time, they are forever trapped in one place. Estragon retains no memory of his life, while Vladimir constantly doubts what few memories he has. This lack of memory, combined with their unwavering belief that they must wait for Godot keeps them from advancing or changing. Many believe the play is a metaphor for man’s relationship with God. One can’t just wait for God to come and save you; you must seek him out. That interpretation drives the comic adaptation.
Jim Starlin and Keith Giffen set the play in outer space with a cast of alien demi-gods. Estragon wears a battered armor and carries what appears to be a non-functioning weapon. Vladimir has the bearing and tattered clothes of a scholar. They wait on an asteroid somewhere in space for the mysterious “Godot”. Just like in the play, they are twice visited by Pozzo and his slave Lucky (drawn here as non-human aliens), who provide the duo with momentary distractions. A “boy”, depicted as a glowing ball of energy, appears to tell the two bums that Mr. Godot cannot come today, but will come tomorrow. As in the play, the boy comes twice, but never remembers Vladimir or Estragon.
The play’s dialogue is copied word for word. The story has the look and feel of Jack Kirby’s New Gods. Esragon and Vladimir resemble Orion and Metron fallen on hard times. And the sight of these clearly powerful beings engaging in such comedy as fighting over hats and insulting each other to pass the time is more ridiculous than seeing it done by normal people.
Starlin’s pencils are, as usual, perfect. He brings life, depth, and that intangible quality of flesh to his work. Mr. Scioli, a relative newcomer, complements Starlin’s art well. His inks do not overwhelm, they merely define and delineate.
Unfortunately, the book suffers at the end when Godot finally arrives. He is revealed to be a giant planet devouring monster that is defeated by our heroes at the cost of their very lives. Suffice to say, the original play ended differently. I fear Marvel tacked on this “comic book” ending to pander to its non-thinking readers. I hate to think what might happen in their upcoming version of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, by Ann Nocenti and Philip Tan.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!