In Review: The Island of Dr. Moreau #1

This is a fantastic adaptation of the timely science fiction-horror novel.

The covers: There are a pair of covers to pick up on the first half of this adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells tale. Both covers are illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez, with one colored by Nelson Dániel. The Regular cover features an absolutely wicked looking white title on a gorgeous blood red background. Below this is the large image of leopard man who has one hand up. His appearance is startling, but his demeanor suggests something is not right. His face has several scars on it that mirror the horror of a famous Mary Shelley character. He looks to be in pain. In the lower right is a circle containing a startled Ellie Prendick. Her red hair and fair skin stand out on a light blue background. A horizontal panel at the bottom of this frontpiece features a close-up of an elderly man’s face on a rust colored background. He’s holding up a small scalpel that has a generous amount of blood on its blade. The Retailer Incentive cover is in black and white, with the leopard man in blue. This is good, but I prefer the colored version. Overall grades: Regular A and RI A-

The story: In the Pacific Ocean in 1896, eight days after the Lady Vain sunk, a lifeboat washes up on an island. Ellie is taken to a room and greeted by Montgomery, a medical man who gave her some injections because she’s been “insensible for nearly thirty hours.” She’s given some mutton while he explains himself. “Why am I here now — an outcast from civilization — instead of being a happy man enjoying all the pleasures of London? Simply because, eleven years ago, I lost my head for ten minutes on a Friday night!” He doesn’t need to go any further with his past, leaving Ellie to rest while he checks on her quarters. The constant wailing of a puma during their conversation has the protagonist investigate where the creature is and she finds the big cat in a small cage. Dr. Moreau appears behind her and she reveals to him that she’s studied biology. Moreau responds, “As it happens, we are biologists here. I and Montgomery, at least.” This phrasing from Moreau is great touch from Ted Adams and Gabriel Rodríguez. Switching Edward into Ellie increases the tension in this book as women at this time aren’t particularly focused on for their strength, but it seems as if she’s going to be more than capable of holding her own among these scientists, and men. Pages 6 and 7 are a clever way to give backstory on the doctor. The third panel on 9 caused a shiver to go down my spine — this will undoubtedly lead to later conflict. The reveal on 17 is a shocker, even though I’m more than familiar with this story. A monstrous character on 18 and 19 is a wonderful surprise. The final five pages introduce an infamous character and I really enjoyed this individual’s dialogue, and all the text at the bottom of 20 and 21. The last two panels of the book are the beginning of a very famous confrontation. This is a great adaptation of an iconic novel. Overall grade: A

The art: The artwork is what got me to pick up this book, peruse it, and then purchase it. Gabriel Rodríguez does beautifully horrific work on this book. The opening page contains a dramatic battle, a distant view of the island, and Ellie’s boat; I love the teases in the fifth and sixth panels. The large panel that crosses over from Page 2 to 3 instantly places the reader in the jungle and wonderfully introduces Montgomery. Him holding a drink in his hand is a subtle character trait. Moreau looks like Death himself in his introduction since he’s in the shadows. The layout of Pages 6 and 7 smartly provide the title character’s past, with that animal on the first page horrible. The reveal of the hand on the latter is great. 10 and 11’s double-paged panel is a terrific way to show Ellie’s recent history without a ton of text. The character revealed on 12 is incredible — a fantastic design that creates horror and sympathy, which is an incredibly tricky balance. This character is soon followed by a trio of grotesqueness on 15. The oversized character on 18 is also amazing looking. This might sound odd, but the scars the transformed characters have are stunning. They look as if they would be made by a surgeon and they create shivers and tears. As if the artwork hadn’t been reason enough to justify the purchasing of this book, Rodríguez creates a jaw-dropping double-paged panel on 20 and 21 that gives fans of this novel exactly what they want. When I came across these pages I stopped reading so that I could take in every inch of this illustration. Wow! This is some awesome artwork in this adaptation. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: My favorite film version of this novel is the classic 1932 Island of Lost Souls. Because of that, I wondered if I would enjoy a colored version of this tale. I absolutely did. Nelson Dániel begins with a sensational creepy orange sky that accompanies Ellie’s unconscious journey. The structures on the island are in every shade of brown and tan to age them and add to the feeling that civilization is rotting away. Ellie stands out on every page she’s on due to her shock of red hair. Moreau’s first appearance is great because he’s in the shadows. I guarantee that readers will pull the book closer to their faces to get as clear a look they can of this doctor. Notice that when Ellie reads about Moreau she’s give a red taint, strengthening the horrific history of the man. Leopard man pops in the pages he appears due to his yellows. The splatter of crimson on white on Pages 16 and 17 is a perfect combination to add to the shock of the visuals. I love these colors. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Robbie Robbins is the go-to letterer at IDW and he does a good job on this book. Narration and dialogue (the same font), a unique dialogue font for a character, and chanting are the text he creates. There is also newspaper text and sounds, but those look to be part of the art, so I’m assuming that Rodríguez created them. I wish the narration and dialogue had been in different fonts since they’re two different forms of communication. The speech of a character on 18 looks absolutely perfect for this individual. The chanting is in italics, giving it a neat sing-song appearance and sound. Overall grade: A-

The final line: This is a fantastic adaptation of the timely science fiction-horror novel. The changes are excellent, with Ellie being a smart differentiation from the original. The visuals are killer, with horrors and heartbreak on every page. This should be read by all fans of science fiction, horror, and comics. Simply wonderful! Recommended. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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