Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book I
Frank Herbert’s epic Science Fiction novel, Dune, comes to life in a new way with the first of three Graphic Novel adaptations. It’s a new take on the classic story, but is it worth picking up?
My love of Dune has been well documented over the years, and this year has given fans like me some goodies to consume. While the film has been, regrettably, pushed back into 2021, we still have things to enjoy. From the all new novel, Duke of Caladan, and the graphic novel adaptation from Abrams Books.
This is the first of three volumes that will retell the original book, breaking up the story in much the same way the novel does. While this means we have to wait for the complete story, it’s still a fun way to enjoy the adventure for both newcomers and long time fans alike.
I won’t recap whether or not the story elements work. I mean, it’s an older story that’s been around for decades now (with previous movie adaptations). This first volume chronicles Paul’s arrival on the titular planet and the treachery that leads him and his mother out to the harsh desert.
Even though I recently re-read the entire Dune saga, it was great to dive back into the story. Transferring it into comic form made it feel fresh, allowing me to soak up the details of the Sci-Fi setting while enjoying the character actions once again.
The art is impressive, Raúl Allén and Patricia Martin manage to incorporate a realistic style while still feeling decidedly out of this world. This allows you to connect with the characters (themselves fun interpretations that aren’t based on any previous media), even as the crazier aspects of the story come into focus.
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, who’ve been the stewards of the franchise for a while now, penned this graphic novel, which serves as a VERY faithful scene-by-scene recreation of the novel. In fact, it’s adherence to the source material is a part of the problem.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to love about this adaptation, but in sticking to a straight up recreation of the source material, it struggles. Much as I LOVE Dune, there’s no denying that the book can be tough to get into. The novel plunges readers directly into the story and a new galaxy; throwing concepts, technology, and strange names at the readers from page one.
The result is an intro that feels particularly heavy-handed and sluggish. Once you get past all that, however, it’s easy to get sucked into the larger story and all the intrigue that goes into it. It’s an initial barrier that feels perfectly suited for touching up/smoothing out in an adaptation...But the graphic novel refuses to do so.
Instead, it retains the lengthy early dialog (even inner monologues of characters) without trying to make it easier to consume. I get they were trying to present as faithful a retelling of the story as possible, but this was just a bit too faithful. Thankfully, the comic format allows readers to get past that sluggish point much quicker and it won’t be long before you’re unable to stop turning the pages.
Aside from the early pacing issues, my biggest problem is the advertisement at the end of the book saying Volume 2 wouldn’t arrive until 2022! I loved it so much, and enjoyed seeing the story and characters presented in this new way. Feels like a real bummer to have to wait over a year to get the next one.