The Island of Dr. Moreau #1 Review - Prometheus Revisited
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
When I was a kid my mom used to pick me up every Monday from school and we'd go to the Movies. Looking back, these times probably were my most cherished experiences with her before she passed away a few years ago.
I remember seeing the trailer for The Island of Dr. Moreau film starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer. I wanted to see it but my mom thought it was a bit much and we never got around to it.
I didn't know that the film owed it's namesake to the H.G. Wells novel at the time. (War of the Worlds), but the Idea of Man playing God and splicing the human form with animals has always intrigued me. It's basically Frankenstein but with animals being vivisected instead of human cadavers.
A few months ago I saw the solicits for the comic adaptation of the novel and figured now was as good as ever to take the plunge into the series.
Ted and Gabriel do a great job of setting up the world. The linework is very cinematic in presentation and the pencils are wonderfully complemented by Nelson Daniel who provides colors. The creatures are all visually interesting to look at. All of them are disturbing, but maintain enough humanity in the details that it's hard not to feel sympathetic to what has been done to them. The question in seeing the results of Moreau's experiments is where do man end and the beast begins.
I've never seen the movie or read the novel so I'm going into this series blind aside from basic info and second-hand knowledge.
The story feels topical. We're always hearing about new breakthroughs with genetics involving splicing man and animal DNA so the material presented in this comic isn't as far fetched as it probably was in the time that the original novel was published in 1896.
The lead character, Ellie Prendick survives an attack at sea and ends up rescued by the inhabitants of the island. She's nursed back to health by a man named Montgomery. He explains her situation to her and how she was near death when he found her.
While Montgomery is explaining her situation Ella hears screams of pain from the creatures in the distance. Montgomery writes the sounds off as howls of a Puma, but Ellie gets suspicious and begins wandering. Eventually, she is confronted by Moreau and quarantined supposedly for her own safety. Ellie then recalls her knowledge of Moreau and how he was exiled for his inhumane experiments on animals.
Time passes and a figure resembling a man delivers her lunch. She sees his hands and notices that they are the hands of an animal. She confronts Monroe and asks about the man but he brushes off her concerns. After that, she leaves and begins to explore the island.
Shortly after she sees one of the creatures up close. It resembles a Leopard spliced with a human being. Upon further exploration, she runs into more creatures. The Leopard man approaches her but she knocks him out with a sling and takes off running. She accidentally runs into Moreau's lab and accidentally interrupts the vivisection of one of the female creatures.
Startled, Ella continues running and encounters a friendly creature that recognizes her from the boat. He takes her to a gathering of a large group of them in the midst of a religious gathering. The comic ends with Dr. Moreau approaching the group and telling the creatures to bring Ellie to him.
The story is fun visually and horrifying. The presentation is great and gets more interesting the longer you look at it. There is a lot of attention to detail in this comic. Moreau's creatures are literally on every page but I didn't notice it until a reread. I don't have many complaints about the book. It's a great adaptation and once you consider that Moreau has been creating all of these monsters with no oversight it gets even more disturbing.
My only real gripe with the comic is that the lead character has been gender-swapped. I mentioned earlier that I'm not all that familiar with the source material. With that knowledge, I can't get into the full extent of how the change affects this comic.
I will say that the change in the lead character's gender is probably affecting interpersonal relationships between characters. At one point Montgomery mentions that if Ellie was a man he probably wouldn't have saved her. At another point in the story, he mentions that he hasn't seen a woman in over a year and approaches her in a manner suggesting he's trying to clap cheeks.
Considering the story was written in 1896 I doubt H.G. wrote a same-sex relationship, I could be wrong. The Gender-Swap doesn't affect the comic but it ultimately calls into question just how faithful this is. Because the cast is set in stone I won't mention this complaint as the series goes forward. There's no point in beating a dead horse and it's probably best to judge the book on its own merits.
Aside from my concerns about the faithfulness to H.G. Well's vision, I don't have any real issues with the story. I added the series to my pull and I'm definitely interested in seeing where the story goes from here.