Review - Artful #1 (@ActionLab)

"Don't you worry none about the Artful. He gots ways."

Vampires are never easy to deal with. If you're a character with a reputation for being dodgy then maybe you have a better chance of making it through the night. The Artful Dodger in Artful #1 from Action Lab is one such character. The issue is written by Peter David (adapted by Nicole D'Andria), illustrated by Laura Neubert and lettered by Justin Birch.

Artful is the dark, funny, and action-packed story of one of the most fascinating characters in literary history, the Artful Dodger from the classic Oliver Twist, this time with a twist: Vampires.

For some reason, Artful #1 takes a long time to develop into what it's ultimately aiming to be. David's story is a fun twist on a somewhat obscure character (when compared to others in the story) in literature and David does a good job of introducing the reader to him and building him up. The issue follows the Artful Dodger as he encounters a new female companion and how he changes her point of view of a few things, but the vampire component seems somewhat absent. The issue makes reference to vampires, although David doesn't really do much more in the way of building them up to be antagonists. It's possible that because this is the first issue of a novel adaptation that the pacing is off and vampires will play a more prominent role as the series progresses.

Neubert's illustrations in Artful #1 capture the spirit of the era in which the Artful Dodger calls home. The Artful Dodger has a boyish charm to him and his appearance, accentuated by an outfit that's equal parts pomp and street urchin. Neubert gives each character full attention in each panel, paying little attention in way of detail to backgrounds. Some of the facial expressions seem a little on the cartoonish side and it's possible Neubert is using that as a means of emphasizing the somewhat broader appeal of the story to a wider range of readers. The panels are very clean and make for an easy read visually.

Artful #1 is another mash-up that throws together an anachronism with a myth. Artful Dodger has a reputation for being a sly devil although it remains to be seen whether or not he can handle vampires. David's script is a slow burn, taking its time to get to the meat of the story. Neubert's illustrations are relatively simple and harmless, offering a glimpse into the lives of those living in London at the time. Artful #1 starts slow before it will likely pick up the pace.

Artful #1 is available now.