A Modern Twist on Oliver- A Review of Olivia Twist #1
Take the beloved Charles Dickens character of Oliver Twist and make him and his street-wise friends female. Then put Olivia Twist in a dystopian future. Add some cruel and unloving orphanage caretakers and you have a turn-of-the Victorian Era story for the post-millenials.
Olivia Twist #1
Written by: Darin Strauss, Adam Dalva
Art: Emma Vieceli
Published by Dark Horse Comics
I was all set to make Olivia Twist #1 my selection for last week’s edition of Family Comic Friday. The first half of this modern retelling of a classic work of English fiction was making for a really good read. This obviously wasn’t all-ages fare. There’s some adult on child violence in the work-farm orphanage in which Olivia lives. But the original Dickens tale was far from peaches and cream and still we require students to read Oliver Twist is middle school and high school.
But when Olivia meets the female version of the Artful Dodger, that’s when any thought of making this book be the highlight of my weekly family friendly series went right out the window. Dodger cusses like a sailor. And we’re not talking ‘hells’ and ‘damns.’ No, the Artful Dodger goes straight for the big one! That mother of all dirty words that resulted in little Ralphie having to wash his mouth out with soap (and risk premature blindness) in A Christmas Story.
One F-bomb, I maybe could let slip. But the last 10 pages read like Tarantino’s take on Oliver Twist. The story itself was quite good. It’s a shame about the language. But for readers in high school and higher, this is something that I recommend.
Many lovers of classics get upset when their beloved childhood stories get rebooted and retold. I for one have nothing against such a retelling as long as the time in right. The last time I recall the story of Oliver Twist being retold was in the Disney feature Oliver and Co. That was about 30 years ago. It’s not like the story of an orphan waif in search of a loving home is being rebooted every couple of years. So I am perfectly fine with the work done by Darin Strauss and Adam Dalva.
To put this story in the setting of a dreary future in which the United States no longer exists is actually a smart, though daring move. The type of reader Dark Horse is trying to appeal to are devotees of The Hunger Games and the Maze Runner. To set this 4-issue miniseries in a dystopian setting is a perfect hook for that audience who often struggle with the question ‘Should America for all it’s wrongs still exist?.’ Plus, the dreariness of this time period is almost as hopeless as it was for Oliver back in Victorian England.
The artwork by Doctor Who artist Emma Vieceli was also right for this. She doesn’t make this futuristic landscape look very promising. Even the rare time we see how the upper class lives, their mansions manage to look ominous and foreboding. But some of the color palette just didn’t match the scenery. It WAS too cheerful!
Dark Horse might very well be on to something. Should Olivia Twist manage to be a hit, I think the publisher should consider producing further classic’s with a modern twist. I only recommend staying away from Frankenstein and Dracula, which have both been rebooted to death. But what about role-reversed Rescuers or the Hunchback of Notre Dame being set in South Bend, Indiana? I would be willing to give those new looks at timeless classics a read.