The Island of Dr. Moreau #2 Review - A messy conclusion but worth a read.
Updated: Jul 27, 2020
I didn't know at the time of reading the first installment that this was a two-part series. If I had known this at the outset I would have held off on the purchase and reviewed the comic once it had been collected in trade. The story wraps up in this issue but suffers some serious pacing issues most likely due to the process of condensing a 209-page novel into a 53-page series.
The comic book picks up immediately from the cliffhanger of the last issue. Ellie has the creatures at her back and Moreau's men closing in. Ellie is eventually convinced to back down after the doctor tells her that he sent his men after her not because he wanted to do her harm, but because the creatures are unpredictable.
Later on, the two engage in conversation and discuss Dr. Moreau's philosophy and why he conducts his barbaric experiments. I won't get into the details to avoid spoilers but I found the exchange to be fascinating and the best part of the series.
The problems start at this point as the story begins moving at a breakneck pace to its conclusion. The book also suffers due to its format. Every page is broken into a 2-page spread. The format emphasizes the action and movement which seems to be the strength of Gabriel Rodriguez. What is lacking is plot and story details that could have been better conveyed with a traditional style of panel-layout. Going back to my Star Trek review, it had its own set of problems but one thing that it did great covering enough of the plot so that the reader didn't feel that anything was missing. This story works in broad strokes but I get the impression that a significant portion of the book was lost.
I mentioned in the last review that the lead character Ellie was gender-swapped. The reason given was for diversity. Apparently the ending was changed as well. I didn't read the novel so I'm not sure what the original ending entailed. I don't have a problem with the changes but I feel that the book should have been sold as a reimagining rather than an adaptation of the source material.
I also don't see any real reason to change the lead character into a woman. It doesn't change any aspect of the story significantly. Her gender is mentioned one or two times and one of Moreau's men tries to sleep with her. Those exchanges could have been cut entirely and the overall tone of the series wouldn't have changed. The swap just feels arbitrary and bizarre.
Gabriel Rodriguez and Nelson Daniel do an amazing job with the art direction. The energy here is intense whenever the action picks up and the monsters look great and varied. I wish that the series was expanded an issue or two because I would have loved to see more creature designs and action. Many of the beasts end up standing around and don't get much dialogue. I don't blame the art team as it seems more like an issue with the editorial direction.
The Island of Dr. Moreau is definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of the source material or were like me and had very little knowledge of the book. Strange editorial decisions aside, it's a pretty comic and the story is solid. I would recommend waiting for the collected edition though and reading it in one sitting.