Oliver #1

Writer: Gary Whitta
Artist: Darick Robertson
Colorist: Diego Rodriguez
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: Image Comics

Review by Michael Farris, Jr.

London is in ruins. A woman on the edge of death finds a group of men that live there and delivers a baby boy before passing away. The men decide to keep the baby, raise him as their own, and name him Oliver. We jump forward to Oliver as a young child causing various shenanigans, when one of his mentors takes him aside to show him where they came from and what happened to the world.

This book reads like it was meant to be an English major’s wet dream. As you perhaps gathered from the title and brief description above, this is an adaptation of Oliver Twist. It opens up with a Richard II quote that works beautifully for the post-apocalyptic world to which we are introduced. Other Shakespeare-esque names like Prospero pop up.

There are many familiar elements sprinkled in, too. The post-apocalyptic-newborn-in-a-survivor-camp-of-adults feels like echoes of Children of Men (Whitta has some familiarity with the post-apocalyptic genre having screenwriting credits like The Book of Eli and After Earth). The community that raises Oliver is a bunch of clones that were bred specifically for the purpose of war…sound familiar? (Whitta also has Star Wars screenwriting and comics credits to his name, too.)

All of these familiar elements feel more like a tip of the hat than a rip-off, and it works for the story. But there are a few moments that will have you exclaiming, “What the Dickens?” (heh heh heh.)

The most glaring moment of befuddlement is after we see a newborn Oliver come from his mother’s womb, we flash forward “three years later,” and Oliver looks and talks like he is approximately eight years old. It is later established that all the men around him are clones, so rapid growth isn’t out of the question. Also, when Oliver is born, while examining the baby, one of the men exclaims, “That’s not normal.” We don’t get a front view of Oliver, so assuming he doesn’t have a massive baby dong, that might also clue us in as to why Oliver appears to be older than three. At the end of this issue, a conversation takes place about not telling Oliver who he “really is.” These men had no idea who the mother was, and now it seems they know quite a bit about who Oliver is, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The artwork does a great job giving us a derelict, beat-down, and bombed London that can only be a haven to clone soldiers without proper human rights. A lot of Robertson’s art reminds me of the artwork in Curse Words if Curse Words was a lot more depressing. Rodriguez does a magnificent job convincing us with his colors that we are experiencing hazy days and moonlit nights.

Verdict: Buy it.

This book feels very much like a love letter to classic and post-modern works of fiction while adapting a much-beloved Dickens story. It leaves you with many questions, which is a great way to get readers to come back for more.

Michael Farris Jr.
mokepf7@gmail.com
Michael is a Virginia-born Idaho convert and a huge fan of sci-fi. He took time off from comics and sci-fi during the dark years of being a teenager and trying to impress girls, but has since married an amazing woman with whom he regularly can geek out and be himself. He's also a drummer, loves metal music, and can always be found in a melancholy state while watching all things DC sports.

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