by Robert Louis Stevenson, Andrzej Klimowski & Danusia Schejbal
John Utterson has noticed that his friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, has been acting rather odd of late. He’s associated himself with an unpleasant, vile little man called Hyde. Hyde is violent and vicious; while out walking one night, Utterson saw him trample a young girl and then pay off her relatives with from Jekyll’s bank account. Yet when Utterson voices his concerns to his friend, Dr. Jekyll assures him not to worry about Mr. Hyde. But a year later, Mr. Hyde commits a far more violent crime, and even though Dr. Jekyll claims to have cut all ties to the man it seems their connection cannot be so easily severed.
As far as graphic novel adaptations go, this is a decent one. As best as I can remember - and it has been many years since I've actually read the original novel - it is faithful to the original story, and it seems to cover the major plot points.
For me, the displeasure in the book came from the art. The panel layout is simple and unimaginative, with each page generally divided into two or three spaces; since the story is so psychological, I'm very disappointed that the artist didn't take advantage of the freedom offered by a graphic novel to express more of the characters' emotions through the layout or illustrations. That was the first problem.
The second issue was that many of the minor characters - Mr. Enfield, Dr. Lanyon, even Jekyll's manservant - don't look all that different from each other. Rendered in sketchy, unfinished-looking pencil lines, the men - and in the cast, there are no important women - just aren't that interesting to look at...which again, is a gross failing of the artists to take advantage of the graphic medium.
The figures' movement, too, is stiff. In superhero comics and in manga, "action lines" are often drawn to simulate movement - important if a character is running or punching. None of those are used here, so you get some very strange-looking panels where it becomes unclear what the character is doing. For example, the lower panel on page 27 has Mr. Hyde standing with left fist in front of him and one of his feet (impossible to determine which) raised. Is he stomping? Is he fleeing a scene? Is he imitating a statue? It’s impossible to tell!
This is not a strong adaptation. If it was the only one available, that would be one thing, but this story is a favorite and has been revisited many times by a variety of artists. I'm certain there's be a better Jekyll & Hyde comic book out there.
3 out of 5 stars
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