Story: Darin Strauss, Adam Dalva
Art: Emma Vieceli
Letterer: Lee Roughridge
What They Say:
A girl power epic! To save a boy she barely knows, teenage orphan Olivia Twist joins the Esthers, a rag-tag girl gang of thieves running free in a dangerous future. Olivia’s life in this London of internment camps and dark technology gets even more complicated when she discovers that she has more power and wealth than she’s ever dreamed of. But it comes at a great cost. Debut comic by internationally best-selling author Darin Strauss. Art by Vampire Academy and The Adventures of Supergirl artist Emma Vieceli. The Dickens classic reimagined! The latest from the Berger Books imprint!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Retelings of classics in new settings are nothing new and switching out locations, genders, and so forth is part and parcel of it as we’ve seen in comics for decades. Oliver Twist finds a new incarnation under the Berger Books banner with Olivia Twist as written by Strauss and Dalva. It’s a busy issue in what it’s trying to get accomplished here, to the point where I wish it was decompressed to two issues so that it could breathe and really engage us with the characters. But even with a faint knowledge of the original you’re able to make most of the leaps easily enough and enjoy it as its own work. It also doesn’t hurt in the slightest that Emma Vieceli puts together a great looking book throughout with some layouts that really sets the flow right for the action and manage to make the back and forth of dialogue seem smooth and far too easily done. I’ve enjoyed Vieceli’s work for a good bit now and seeing her on a book like this is great.
The world design that we get here is spread throughout the book and it’s a little hard to get a full handle on. It’s a relative near future where there’s not much in the way of America anymore and the focus is on the UK. America fell under an EMP blast to stop the singularity, full on artificial intelligence that would overwhelm things, and paid the price for it. That has returned us to a kind of early industrial age in a lot of ways when it comes to manufacturing and that has a lot of displaced people put to work in dull, dirty, and dangerous work. Such is the case for Olivia, a young woman who is just about to turn 18 and age out of the workhouse that she’s in. She’s more problematic than others because of her heritage, to the point where she likely should have been in a camp instead of a workhouse. But with her parents killed when she was a baby and both of them having come up with something important technology-wise, there’s an uncertainty to her here.
Her story here starts with the unusual romance of her parents as narrated by her and then showing surviving in the workhouse, meeting young Pip and feeling protective of him, and then trying to escape when she realizes her post-aging out job is in the same place, a company called Provis that controls most of the world. It’s crazy chaotic once she does escape as a young woman named the Artful Dodger helps shepherd her through the real world that she’s never seen, and it’s a whirlwind of material. It’s not straight out exposition, which might have worked better in some ways, but we get exposure to gangs, politicos, consumerism, and the various class levels in brief. All of it with Artful Dodger quipping and keeping it light and showcasing how to survive here. There’s hints of the bigger plan for it all but that’s not the intent here beyond being a tiny hook.
Olivia Twist is filled with potential but it leans on some easy nods to the source material as an ease of access point instead of really taking the time to build things here. It feels like it needed a little more space to really explore/explain some of these areas and to give Olivia herself time to exist within it rather than the hectic pacing that we get. It all works and makes sense but it’s just too rushed for my tastes. Emma Viecli creates a really interesting world here with its design and the characters that inhabit it but we get so many setting and so many background characters that there’s little time to really invest in an area. I’m definitely intrigued and I think the creative team here has a lot going for them and the project, I just hope it slows down enough to connect with.
Age Rating: 15+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: September 19th, 2018