Oliver With A Twist
Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Cundle takes a look at Image Comics’ Oliver, out now…
Writer: Gary Whitta
Artist: Darick Robertson
Put aside your cosy memories of Ron Moody’s Fagin exhorting his clan of waifs and strays to pick pockets in Dickens’s pitiless rookeries. Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson’s Oliver is a far more uncompromising, polemical affair, more redolent of David Lean’s version than Lionel Bart’s.
Set in a dystopian future in which the UK has been ravaged by war and its devastating aftermath, Oliver is the tale of an orphan left in charge of a group of abandoned bio-engineered veterans. Whitta has to be commended for ably setting his stall early without revealing too much, as well as applying a Shakespearean sheen to the story. Sprinkling the narrative with references to the Bard’s canon, particularly Richard III, Macbeth and Hamlet, Whitta opts for tragedy, the sympathetic players seemingly doomed from the outset.
Oliver thematically is about the clash of innocence and experience in a night time world. It’s an ambitious piece, and although by no means the first time a classic book has been given the revisionist, future-shock treatment, the rich Dickensian seam is mined extremely well. Oliver promises the unexpected, managing to overload and beguile the senses in what is a transcendent work for the medium, and a reminder of what brought us to it in the first place. Where Oliver will go from here is impossible to predict, such is its open-endedness, but nevertheless, it is a compulsive effort. To invoke Dickens’s celebrated street urchin, “More please”…