Review: 'Olivia Twist' #1 Is an Intriguing "Twist" on the Classic Dickens Tale

olivia twist header
(Photo: Dark Horse/Berger Books)

Retelling the stories of classic literature is tricky. While the stories are timeless, updating them for a modern audience -- no matter what the medium -- frequently loses something in the translation. However, when it comes to Olivia Twist #1, that does not appear to be the case.

Written by Darin Strauss and Adam Dalva with art by Emma Vieceli, Oliva Twist is an adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" with, well, a few interesting twists. For starters, Oliver becomes Olivia, and while this new, female version is also an orphan, her origin is in some ways more bleak. With her parents killed when she was an infant, Olivia spends her entire life in the system.

That "system" is the other twist to the story. Olivia Twist is set in a near future dystopia where it appears that the xenophobia in our real world eventually reaches a brutal, critical state. England is engulfed in civil war which leads to the internment of "unsafe" others in camps -- and those others? Foreigners. The economy is a disaster as well and we soon learn that orphans all end up in the care of corporations who enslave them in workhouses until the age-out at 18.

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(Photo: Dark Horse/Berger Books)

It's quite a bit of backstory, but it's necessary to bring readers into understanding who Olivia is as well as how she ends up in the predicment where the story really begins. However, while the story is supposed to be about Olivia's life after she leaves the workhouse that's the part of the issue where things get a little less interesting. While the issue has to introduce a lot of concepts and characters in a fairly compact amount of time, pages-wise, it's the heroine's backstory that is truly interesting. It's ultimately what may well set Olivia Twist apart from just another reimagining of the Dickens classic.

The art in Olivia Twist is noteworthy as well. Vieceli's work has a future-meets-steampunk feel to it, neatly pulling elements from the Victorian setting of the original Dickens story with imaginings of what the near future might look like. Add in Lee Loughridge's excellent use of color -- specifically blues and grays -- and the visuals of the issue tell almost as much of a story as the words themselves.

While Olivia Twist may not be the best comic out this week, it's certainly off to a promising start, and one you certainly don't want to miss.

Published by Dark Horse/Berger Books

On September 19, 2018

Written by Darin Strauss & Adam Dalva


Art by Darin Strauss & Adam Dalva

Colors by Lee Loughridge