A “Twist” on a Classic Leaves Me Asking For More… Please? OLIVER #2 (Review)
Writer: Gary Whitta
Pencils: Darick Robertson
Colors: Diego Rodriguez
Publisher: Image Comics
If you would have told me a few weeks ago that I would be gushing over a comic book involving a Charles Dickens story, I would have called you a liar. Today, I would have to agree if that same question were to be presented. After the second issue of “Oliver”, I am all in. In this issue, we are advanced two years from the previous issue. Our story starts off with a chase between an IVC (Invitro Combatant) named Edmund and this new age government. Once Edmund is captured, he is questioned and quickly gives up information about the boy that is Oliver. Why does this matter? Well, Oliver is a hybrid. Half human, half IVC. In this new world this is not allowed, and is considered to be a threat. In these scenarios, hybrid babies are dumped into the river. The government finds the info given by Edmund useful, but that doesn’t stop them from beheading him anyways. The knowledge of Oliver’s existence in the opening pages establishes that he is going to be the government’s next target. Although it has only been two calendar years, Oliver has physically aged to the point of a young adult. This is indicating his IVC half. Oliver is having a conversation with Prospero, his “adopted” father figure, about his job and how he would like to see first hand how it is they are able to eat every day. After a back and forth about how bad of an idea it is to risk Oliver’s exposure, Oliver convinces Prospero to let him go after shaving his head bald to be able to blend in with the rest of the IVCsat work. On his first day, things go bad fast, but also expose just how much of a potential threat Oliver could possibly be. This is discovered in a not-so-classic Charles Dickinson moment. A fellow worker isn’t able to get his portion of food due to the slop machine being jammed. I bet you see where I’m going here. Oliver will not have any of this, so he approaches the massive guard to confront him. Here is where we get one of the most iconic lines in all of Dickinson’s work, well, a variation at least. Nevertheless, obviously recognizable. When the guard refuses, violence ensues. We see the fatal capabilities of Oliver when he graphically gouges the guard in the throat with a knife. Prospero is mortified of the repercussions of Oliver’s actions, and quickly gets Oliver and the dead guard out of the work site before anything can be discovered by any other guards. Back home, Prospero starts to spill the beans to Oliver about who he really is and why the government finds his existence so threatening. We get a run down of the birthmark on his chest, indicating the lineage on his father’s side and his rankings. Oliver also gets told that his mother is still alive after all, but that just seems to anger him. As Oliver storms off in a rage, our story leaves off.
Gary Whitta is doing an amazing job of turning a story that most would not find to be a very fun idea for a comic book, and making it more interesting than I could ever imagine. I never would have thought that I would be excited for the next part of a “Twist” on Dickens. (Sorry, had to do it.) Not only is this story filled with action, even the descriptive scenes tend to be immersive. The mapping out of the new and futuristic setting has been very well explained. The action is everything I never thought I would love about Oliver Twist due to its wonderful unpredictability. Every bit of this leaves me wanting more. After the fist issue, I was intrigued. The second issue confirms my intrigue and dismisses my reluctantness, and I think I have to credit Whitta for that.
Darick Robertson was originally the reason I decided to give this book a shot.”Transmetropolitan” is one of my favorite stories, so it was only natural I had to see what Robertson was up to. He hasn’t missed a beat. The ability to show the rapid aging of Oliver while still making his appearance distinguishable is a feat to be acknowledged. All of the character design is wonderful and I love the intensity emitted from our characters expressions. Diego Rodriguez does an amazing job with the color pallet as well. He definitely sets the proper tone.While there isn’t any particular mind-blowing scene in this issue, it stays consistent in tone development and design throughout. I don’t think there is anything bad to say about this book visually at all.
Overall, I could not be more pleased with a book that I had such low expectations for, at least as far as an interesting story goes. No offense to Mr. Dickens, but that’s just not my type of story usually. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into with Gary Whitta, but only because of pure ignorance toward his work. This team proves that its not what you say, it’s how you say it. I love what everyone on this book is doing, and I look forward to how this story is going to be laid out from here. I know that I am going to get action at this point, and I am pretty positive that I’ll be awed visually throughout, so I don’t feel like there is any feasible reason to stop reading this book.
I could not be more pleased with a book that I had such low expectations for.