Pride & Prejudice #1
By Zak Edwards
April 11, 2009 - 19:03
Publisher(s): Marvel Comics
Writer(s): Nancy Butler
Penciller(s): Hugo Petrus
Colourist(s): Alejandro Torres
Letterer(s): Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist(s): Sonny Liew
I am convinced if Jane Austen lived now, she would be one of the most famous and respected comedians in the world. Her novels, with a personal exception to “Persuation,” are all wonderfully enjoyable books who remain clever, witty, and intelligent reads right up to the modern day. In other words, there is good reason the majority of people in high school and university English have had her on their reading lists. I myself being a fan of her work, what I have had the time to read at least, was both excited and confused at Marvel Comics’ choice to adapt Austen’s arguably most renowned work, “Pride and Prejudice.” Cautious because I believe the comic medium cannot handle the wordplay Austen uses which I enjoy so much while confused because of the strange amount of risk Marvel Comics is taking with this adventure. Marvel Illustrated, a line of comics all adapting works of literature, generally stays within the demographic of who is buying X-Men and The Avengers when it comes to their choices. Some of their recent endeavours include The Illiad, Treasure Island, and Moby Dick, all works with plenty of adventure and violence, even pirates. Pride and Prejudice is is one of the founding works of the romantic comedy genre, which now translates to men around the world being dragged to the theatre to sit through whatever Jennifer Aniston is in next, the whole thing feels like a risk, which added to my curiousity at the project.
Being only five issues long, this adaptation feels more like an adaptation the film starring Keira Knightly and Judi Dench then being based on the novel, which traditionally runs at over three hundred pages. Indeed, Mr. Bennet looks almost exactly like Donald Sutherland, who played the role in the film. But the book is a paraphrase, making a narrative of highlights from of the book, and as such much is lost. The Wizard of Oz is getting eight issues to faithfully adapt L. Frank Baum’s children’s classic, but Pride and Prejudice only gets five. So everything feels very fast, cramming so much into these twenty-three pages. Transitions across a lot of time and space happen without any warning or direction, giving a very muddled feel to the whole book as well. Much of the enjoyable experience I had with the comic is coming from reminders to the original book over anything original or interesting, a prime example being the scene in which Jane travels to Netherfield by horseback in the rain. The scene itself is not as funny in itself, but reminded me of Mrs. Bennet’s evil genius antics. Also, the medium does not transfer Austen’s wit in a very effective manner, with so much attention being paid to major plot developments much of the interactions between characters is lost. So unfortunately, much is lost in the experience, although I do commend Marvel Comics on their attempt and risk, even if this one didn’t really take off.
As for the art, I really did not like it, the cover especially was simply a terrible idea. The cover attempts to look like an old-fashioned version of an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, but with the language of a modern day issue. As you can see on the left, phrases like “Bingleys Bring Bling to Britain” grace the cover and the whole thing makes the book feel as cheap as one of those magazines. Much of the problems with the art can be summed up on the first couple of pages. The panel showing all the Bennet girls (complete with names) make them all look like supermodels who are either bored or stoned, and most certainly spent their father’s unremarkable income on botox and expensive hair treatment products. Also, there is a panel of Mrs. Bennet in which her face takes up the entire panel, like her face is getting squished through a small box, something penciller Hugo Petrus repeats a few times with different characters with little success. I have to appreciate his paying attention to the styles of dress from the period, as well as the household appearances, but with Mr. Bennet looking so much like Donald Sutherland, I fear much of the research was done for him. All in all, the girls are too unrealistic for a story set completely within the mundane and the panelling leaves something to be desired.
5/10 I appreciate the attempt, but I feel the short length takes far too much away. Read the book!
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