A Classic Epic Brought To Four-Colour Life
Tripwire’s editor-in-chief puts on his stillsuit and prepares to encounter sand worms and dives into the first volume of Abrams’ adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune novel…
Frank Herbert’s Dune: The Graphic Novel Book 1
Writers: Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson
Artists: Raul Allen with Patricia Martin
Announced to tie in with the release of Warner Bros.’ Dune movie adaptation, which has now been delayed to Oct of this year, this 160 page graphic novel adapts the first chunk of Frank Herbert’s door stopper sci-fi classic. I have an admission to make: I have never read Herbert’s book. So I am coming to this totally cold. I did see Lynch’s film many years ago but I don’t remember much about it. One of the writers Brian Herbert is Frank Herbert’s son, who has collaborated extensively with the other writer here, Kevin J Anderson, on a number of Dune novels previously. Artists Allen and Martin are based in Spain and their work has been seen from Marvel and DC. The book is crowned with a very enigmatic but beautiful cover by Bill Sienkiewicz, an artist with a CV unmatched by probably anyone currently working in comics or illustration.
This hardcover introduces us to the world of Herbert’s Dune, a place where intrigue and murder are commonplace. Duke Leto Atreides and his young son Paul are relocating to the desert place Arrakis but rival family the Harkonnen is hellbent on seizing control of this planet from the Atreides. However Leto’s son Paul is no ordinary boy but a potential messiah figure, the Kwisatz Haderach, with the power to shift the balance in this screwed-up galaxy. So we are thrown in at the deep end here, showing us a place that manages to mix science with mysticism and logic with spirituality. Artists Allen and Martin bring Herbert’s vision to life with style and panache and Herbert and Anderson do offer a rich story drawn in a European style which engages the reader. It also feels very cinematic in places which lends it some extra heft as a reading experience.
Arthur C Clarke compared it to Lord Of The Rings, which seems to be a fair one, although to modern eyes, it almost feels like it has more in common with something like Star Wars. Of course, the book predates Lucas by over a decade so it is possible that his sci-fi series was influenced by Herbert. It is a little bit of a shame that the film has been delayed as that would have got this a little more attention. But this adaptation is a perfectly decent start to bringing Herbert’s work to life as a comic, offering some visual flourish and some intriguing concepts, some of which are still relevant today (ecological destruction, the role of the demagogue, schisms in society).
There is a reason why Dune still attracts interest from readers decades later and the delayed film will definitely draw people to this graphic novel.
Frank Herbert’s Dune: Volume 1 is out now