Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Gary Whitta
Artwork: Darick Robertson
Colours: Diego Rodriguez
Lettering: Simon Bowland
Release Date: 27th February 2019
Last month I got the chance to read the debut issue of Whitta et al.’s new post-apocalyptic Dickensian inspired superhero story, and was very much a fan from the off. The pairing of Robertson and Rodriguez seemed like a perfect fit for the tone of the story and Bowland’s lettering rounded off the visual treats nicely. With high hopes for the series moving forward I sat down with this month’s issue, and it’s safe to say I’m glad I did. For anyone who hasn’t read or seen an adaptation of Oliver, there may be some minor spoilers ahead. In saying that, this definitely ain’t a Lionel Bart ditty.
Instead of following on from last month directly, the story jumps a couple of years into the future and gives us an insight into this strange new England. Instead of a Mad Max style Badlands, we see that there is a government of sorts remaining, complete with bespectacled ‘gents’, moustachioed military, and cyber hounds, and the world suddenly becomes wider and more complex. It’s a neat, relatively simple twist which once again forces the story out of any already well-trodden paths; it’s clear though that politics never changes… Our genetic soldiers, now obsolete after the war, are the new working class, however the term slave labour would probably be more apt. With little to no rights, the group are forced to toil in labour camps which young Oliver pleads to see in an attempt to fit in. This builds up to a wonderful take on the, “please sir”, set-piece which is simply stunning.
It’s hard to find fault in the style of this series. You can sense the heat and dank sweat of indenture but the team have cleverly ensured that the realism doesn’t pull too hard at the threads of the fantastical here. It’s evidently a comic book world and this allows them to leverage some added oomph out of every panel – the splash of Oliver and the guard is a beauty, and the ensuing pages capture so much visceral emotion. I also love so many of the little touches like the etching, “BIG DOG” or the subtle hair growth. There’s effort on display here, with perhaps not so subtle messages about our own world, giving a stellar example of classic storytelling.
With the cat well and truly out of the bag, and Oliver now seemingly betrayed by those closest to him, the fires of rage have been ignited and one can tell there are more beatings on their way. Rehashing a classic story with such a fundamental shift in setting could have been either been a bit flat or worse, overdone. Instead I’m sitting here, despite having more than an inkling of where the story is heading, eager to see it unfold anew.
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster