Review – The Island of Doctor Moreau #1 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Adapted by: Ted Adams, Gabriel Rodriguez
Artwork: Gabriel Rodriguez
Colours: Nelson Dániel
Lettering: Robbie Robbins
Release Date: 7th July 2019

HG Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau is probably my favourite of his novels. In 1896, Wells brought the world a groundbreaking story of medical manipulation, along with what was to become one of science fiction’s most recognisable tropes. Namely “uplift”, whereby a more technologically advanced race intervened in the development/evolution of a *lesser species* and unnaturally raises its intelligence. A commentary on the dangers of unrestricted scientific advances and humanity’s moral responsibility to protect those in its care, Wells weaves a tale which is both horrific and thoughtful, and which is still just as relevant and poignant today as it was over 120 years ago.

I have yet to see a screen adaptation of this book that works, although I am aware that there was one in the ‘30s, and we’re just going to forget that the Marlon Brando/Val Kilmer atrocity exists, okay? If however you want to look at films that owe their souls to Wells’ Doctor Moreau, you couldn’t find a better example in modern times than Jurassic Park and Ian Malcolm’s famous line “you scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Devoid of a satisfying big-screen adaptation of the book, I was really interested to see that IDW were publishing a comic series adaptation. And when I saw that Gabriel Rodriguez was attached on art duties I suddenly got very excited.

This is an adaptation of the book, and Adams and Rodriguez have taken a little license with the source material in order to make it work in comic format, but not in any way that jars or detracts from the original story. Edward Prendick becomes Ellie, which allows Adams to also weave in an additional sinister threat to her wellbeing in the form of an overtly predatory Montgomery. Adams has done a great job here; it’s a tough book to adapt and it’s a tough book to bring a fresh narrative to but this first issue does both well and sets up the world building quickly and effectively.

Gabriel Rodriguez is something of a legend, and his work on Locke & Key will always be near the top of my list of all-time favourites. The artwork in this issue is equally good. There’s a subtle menace in the supposedly benign and a disarming beauty in the supposedly malignant. Nelson Dániel does a great job on colours and the overall page/panel design is well done. It’s also really nice to see Robbie Robbins gets a chance to stretch his legs with some beautifully laid out Victorian newspaper clippings.

Overall, this is a nicely done adaptation that shows great respect to the source material while also allowing the creative team to add their own unique flourishes to it.

Rating: 3.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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