by Edgar Allan Poe, et al.
Edgar Allan Poe never ceases to fascinate, and many of his stories lend themselves well to adaptation to other media. In Nevermore, many writers and artists collaborated to create new graphic novel versions of his most popular short stories. In this slim volume, the following tales are included:
“The Pit & The Pendulum”
“The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar”
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”
“The Fall of the House of Usher”
“The Black Cat”
“The Oval Portrait”
“The Tell-Tale Heart”
“The Masque of the Red Death”
There's nothing on the cover of the book to indicate that Nevermore is any different from the current crop of more faithfully-rendered adaptations of classic novels to the graphic novel format. But these aren't exactly like the stories Poe wrote. For the most part, the tales have been moved forward in time to the late 20th and early 21st century, and technology and locations have been updated accordingly. For example, “The Masque of the Red Death” is no longer set in the crenelated abbey of a dissipated prince, but on the opening night of 2016's Comic Con. Instead of masquerading nobles, there are cosplayers. Since each chapter is quite short, averaging between ten and sixteen pages, there tales have been trimmed down and streamlined. Some of them are quite far removed from the Poe tales I remember – but to be fair, the last time I remember reading Poe's oeuvre was a good seven or eight years back (maybe longer) so my recollection could just be hazy.
Every page is black and white, but the artists have wildly different styles. “The Oval Portrait,” illustrated by Natalie Sandells, recalls the inking and aesthetic of older “girls” comics from the 1950s and 1960s – at least to me, while Shane Oakley's “Fall of the House of Usher” uses blocky, heavily-shadowed panels that remind me of a woodcut. The variety in the appearance of the stories is refreshing. Each each artist matches the images to the story being told very well.
I wasn't crazy about all of the adaptations, however. Some were pretty good - “The Tell-Tale Heart” has a blind female narrator, and stood out to me, as did the faded rock star Roderick in “The Fall of the House of Usher”. “The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar” was probably my favorite of the stories; it's true to the original short story but uses our modern media frenzies to showcase the suffering of the poor title character. But a lot of them were forgettable or didn't quite work for me. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” preserves the unusual murderer of the original tale and adds a robot servant to assist C. Auguste Dupin, but complicates things excessively by adding an elaborate back story of inter-species brain transfer.
Uneven in quality but overall entertaining, this is a fun read as long as the reader is not expecting to see Poe's exact tales recreated in panels and speech bubbles.
3 out of 5 stars
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