Review - Olivia Twist #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"Ignore everything you have heard and read. This is my story, told from the gates of utter loss."

Being an orphan is difficult. Being an orphan forced into child labor is even harder. In Olivia Twist #1 from Dark Horse Comics, the two come together in a way that makes for a fascinating story. The issue is written by Darin Strauss and Adam Dalva, illustrated by Emma Vieceli, colored by Lee Loughridge and lettered by Sal Cipriano.

To save a boy she barely knows, teenage orphan Olivia Twist joins the Esthers, a rag-tag girl gang of thieves running free in a dangerous future. Olivia's life in this London of internment camps and dark technology gets even more complicated when she discovers that she has more power and wealth than she's ever dreamed of. But it comes at a great cost.

Strauss and Dalva make an interesting narrative choice within the first few pages of the script by essentially framing the larger plot by telling the reader all the details. Olivia is poised to be the main character, although Strauss Dalva don't spend the entirety of the issue on establishing her as such. This is a good thing as it affords the reader exposure to the book's universe at once and helps to immediately set the tone. There are parallels between the issue and the novel Oliver Twist as Strauss and Dalva subtly pay homage to the source material in their more modern adaptation. Strauss and Dalva move pretty quickly through the first issue to establish these touchpoints in relation to the book and by the end of the issue the reader encounters the main pillars of the story's foundation.

Vieceli has a very concise line style that imbues the characters with a lightweight presence throughout the issue; characters don't burden the panels with heft. Contemporizing the characters for an alternate reality London is also bolstered by Viesceli's style in that there's a anachronistic visual flair between the factory and Americatown. The way Vieceli renders the two different locales is also very telling and seem to reflect the stereotypical ideas of both London and America that seem to persist regardless of the era. There's a cleanliness to the panel layouts that Viesceli breaks out of on occasion for helping with the narrative. Loughridge's colors are fairly muted and further reinforce the notion that the world of Olivia Twist is dour and depressing for most.

Oliver Twist is a somewhat difficult story to adapt to modern day, but Olivia Twist #1 does an admirable job. Olivia is the main character in a modernized version of a classic tale. Strauss and Dalva pay respects to the source material with deference, but do enough to make it feel like a new story. Vieceli's artwork is gorgeous and the perfect fit for the tale. Olivia Twist #1 is a great read where fans of Oliver Twist will appreciate the subtle references the most.

Olivia Twist #1 is available September 19.