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The Picture of Dorian Gray (Marvel Illustrated Comics)
by Oscar Wilde, Roy Thomas & Sebastian Fiumara

The artist Basil Hallward has nearly completed his masterwork: a perfect portrait of the handsome, innocent Dorian Gray. His final brush strokes are interrupted by his friend Lord Henry Wotten, who forces Basil to introduce him to the young model. Basil hesitates – Henry is wicked through and through – but when Dorian walks in, the connection cannot be avoided. Lord Wotten wastes no time in corrupting the impressionable youth with his harsh words. He inspires in Dorian a terror of aging, so strong that Dorian declares fervently that he would give up his soul if only the portrait would age while his own body remained forever beautiful. His prayer is granted. As time passes on, Lord Wotten's malignant influence leads Dorian to a hedonistic, careless existence; no matter what horrors or sins he commits, Dorian remains as young and lovely as ever – while his portrait corrupts and changes under the weight of his misdeeds.

Oscar Wilde's greatest novella receives the graphic novel treatment in this volume from the Marvel Comics Illustrated series. I'm a huge fan of the original story, so I was a little nervous to see how it would be edited to suit the graphic format. However, The Picture of Dorian Gray has always struck me as a good candidate for adaptation because it is such a visual story, and the characters spend so much time discussing aesthetics and beauty. Luckily, Roy Thomas did an excellent job of whittling the story down to its essentials while retaining the distinctive voice of wilde, and a perfect artist was found. Sebastian Fiumara's fresh-faced Dorian always looks the perfect Apollo, becoming all the more striking as the pages turn and he remains so while his friends all age and fade. Lord Wotten's neat goatee and dark hair inevitably reflects his devilish influence over Dorian; the doomed Sibyl is of similar coloring and features to Dorian, hinting that his great passion for her is only a reflection of Dorian's true love: himself.

It might be an exaggeration to call this a perfect adaptation, but it's pretty darn close! The art captures the gothic beauty of the original story and brings the characters to life with vivid detail. At the end of the book is a four page glossary defining terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader, an inclusion that will hopefully encourage those normally intimidated by 'classics' to take on the original story if they enjoyed the comic version.

5 out of 5 stars

To read more about The Picture of Dorian Gray, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2011: Love*Com Vol. 1 by Aya Nakahara
2010: n/a
2009: Giveaway #10: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
2008: n/a


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