Written by: Ayize Jama-Everett
Art by: Tristan Roach
Published by: Abrams ComicArts – Megascope
As the title implies, The Last Count of Monte Cristo is a re-imagining of Alexandre Dumas’ timeless tale of endurance, courage, and revenge. The work is part of a new line of graphic novels curated by Professor- and acclaimed Eisner Award-winning comic creator- John Jennings. As explained on the publisher’s website, the work of the Abrams ComicArts – Megascope line is “dedicated to showcasing speculative and non-fiction works by and about people of color, with a focus on science fiction, fantasy, horror, history, and stories of magical realism.”
This modern tome seeks to reclaim the cultural heritage of Dumas’ original tale- inspired by the author’s bi-racial father, General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, and his actual real-life imprisonment- while also serving as a cautionary tale regarding our current environmental perils. Does it hit the mark? Let’s take a deeper look to see.
The story is set 198 years in the future, where melting polar ice caps have created a world where control of the savage sea makes heroes out of sailors, reminiscent of the historical Age of Sail. Our protagonist Quabbinah Dantes, a Zanzibarian Muslim, is introduced by going through harrowing torture while imprisoned. Through flashback, we see that he is the former first mate of a bonded ship tasked with bringing it into port after the death of its captain. Returning to the welcoming arms of his fiance and father, we get initial glimpses of the conspiracy against Dantes that will eventually lead to his predicament: banishment to prison by the crooked magistrate Villefort.
The basic plot tracks that of the nearly 180-year-old classic: Dantes, through the aid of a fellow prisoner, becomes proficient in mind, body, and spirit and escapes captivity to create a new life as the Count of Monte Cristo dead set on getting vengeance against those who ruined him.
Writer AyizeJama-Everett’s adaptation is a tour-de-force imbued with layers of plot twists and vivid characterizations in a lush Afro-futuristic world given life by Roach’s sharp and stylishly vibrant art. Whether one is a fan of Dumas’ classic or not, this adaptation is well worth exploring in its own right and helps serve as a brilliant introduction to Jennings’ Megascope line.
William Satterwhite is the creator of the superhero webcomic Stealth and a freelance designer, internet consultant and illustrator living in Douglasville, Ga. His professional website can be found at www.williamsatterwhite.info.