Review – Dune: House Atreides #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writers: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
Illustrations: Dev Pramanik
Colours: Alex Guimaraes
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: Jae Lee & June Chung
Release Date: 21st October 2020

A beginning is a very delicate time…

With news that the eagerly anticipated new movie has been postponed until next year, this prequel adaptation will no doubt be very welcomed by fans of the literary franchise. But what about those with less exposure to the Dune universe? Is this a good jumping on point and an easy read to follow for newcomers as well as something with enough meat for established fans? Is it possible to do both?

Based on Herbert and Anderson’s novel of the same name, this reveals events some thirty odd years prior to the main story in Dune. The young Vladimir Harkonnen has just taken over the production on the planet Arrakis whilst Leto of House Atreides has yet to take up residence on Ix under the tutelage of Vernius. On top of seeing these young rivals, we also have the plotting and machinations of Shaddam and his minion Fenring, whilst Shaddam’s father the Padishah Emperor Elrood summons the planetologist Kynes with a request.

There’s a lot going on here and for complete newcomers to Dune, this will probably seem a little overwhelming at first. We have names that obviously carry weight but little in the way of context. In some respects, I think this might be of some benefit. Without the ‘baggage’ of expectation there, approaching this story fresh gives the opportunity for the wonder and depth of the universe to hit with more impact. In any case, this comic adaptation does a fine job of distilling down the key components of the novel’s opening and the result is a fairly easy read despite the deep end drop.

Any adaptation of a fan favourite novel also runs the gauntlet of visualisation. Will the imagery match the works you’ve crafted in your imagination over the years or will it clash and rankle? Pramanik and Guimaraes, aided by Dukeshire’s lettering do, in my opinion, a wonderful job. Blending the high tech and anachronistic, the verdant and cosmopolitan with the harsh and barren, there’s nothing here that I took umbrage with. I appreciated the design on things like the ornithopters and the shadowy, faceless entourage of the Emperor’s court. I would have perhaps liked to have seen a bit more emphasis on the broad hardships of Arrakis but there’s a lot crammed into this short issue. I’m not sure if it was intended, but the characterisations of certain characters such as Kynes hit me with a nostalgia for the great animations of the ‘80s.

I should also give a mention to the amazing cover work; both for this issue and shown for next. Lee and Chung’s designs elicit that enigmatic grandeur which has captivated readers. Again, some might nit-pick about certain details but they certainly won’t fail to draw attention on the shelves.

The long and short of it is that for people like me, this will be one that we’d be interested to pick up and check out. If you’ve no interest in Dune, then this will, similarly, hold little interest for you. Given that this is an adaptation I’m intrigued to see how it’ll be broken down issue by issue and admit that overall, it’s one I’d probably be more likely to hold off on for a collected volume.

Rating: 3.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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