Publisher: Dark Horse Comics (Berger Books Imprint)
Writer(s): Darin Strauss & Adam Dalva
Artwork: Emma Vieceli
Colours: Lee Loughridge
Release Date: 19th September 2018
Introducing Berger Books’ dystopian take on the classic Charles Dickens story Oliver Twist. “Don’t trust anything you have heard or read — this is my story and it’s about to begin”.
In a near future setting, economic and political fears spark a civil war in England ending in the internment of anyone considered “unsafe” by the new authorities. Known as The Contraction, this predominantly consists of locking up anyone foreign. This new series tells the story of Olivia, a young woman whose parents were tragically killed while escaping one of the camps, leaving her in the tender care of one of the hundreds of new workhouses across the country.
As modern retellings of the story go, this has an interesting twist (pun intended) which goes beyond the fact that the majority of the cast are female. Upon her escape from the workhouse, Olivia finds a friend in The Artful Dodger and is introduced to Fagin, leader of the Esthers. What’s more, the Esthers – a group claiming to be out to save the world – and Olivia may hold the key to salvation in the form of her parents’ scientific endeavours.
Full disclosure time, I’ve never read anything by Darin Strauss or Adam Dalva, and as far as I’m aware this is their first foray into comics. I was sceptical when I picked this up as I’ve never been a fan of taking existing stories and just shoehorning in a gimmick, but I was actually surprised to find myself really enjoying this first issue. I thought it took a familiar story places it hasn’t been before, and I found, in the opening set up that I was faintly reminded of P.D. James’ Children Of Men. I think the set up for the mystery of Olivia’s potential impact on the world was well done and will lift this story from just a reimagining of Oliver Twist into a world of its own.
Emma Vieceli (Adventures Of Supergirl, Jem & The Holograms, Doctor Who: A Matter Of Life & Death) provides the art for this issue and her Manga roots really pay off with taking the familiar and giving it a futuristic or Steampunk feel to make it different. I’d be interested to see what she’d do if you gave her some Jules Verne to play with. Lee Loughridge’s colours are great and bring real texture and drama to Vieceli’s art.
Overall this is an intriguing start to this new series and I’ll be following future issues with interest.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek