First published in a collected edition format back in March of 2015, IDW’s graphic novel ‘The Army Of Dr. Moreau’ was written by David F. Walker with artwork by Carl Sciacchitano.  The graphic novel collected together all six issues from the original Monkeybrain comics. 

DLS Synopsis:
London, November 1939.  A German courier has been intercepted carrying documents and photographs that British and American intelligence are struggling to explain.  The documents refer to the experiments of French vivisectionist Meraux.  Meraux had been one of the first to delve into what is now called eugenics.  He wrote a controversial paper on the manipulation and creation of superior races.  Shortly afterwards, some rather questionable experiments got him run out of Europe.

Very few people know that Meraux had been the inspiration for H.G. Well’s novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau.  However, following the interception of the German documents, Winston Churchill is now concerned the Germans have learnt that much of the work contained within Well’s novel was in fact real.  Meraux’s secrets in the hands of anyone would be dangerous.  In the hands of a madman such as Hitler, would be catastrophic.

In order to investigate the matter, a team of British and American operatives are sent to an uncharted island in the South Pacific where their intelligence reports indicate a possible covert German operation.  Their mission - to gather information, ascertain the nature of the operation, and deal with any threats accordingly.

But soon enough their worst fears will be realised.  On the island, Dr Reinhart has been creating an army that will strike fear into the hearts of all that oppose the Third Reich.  Soldiers that show no mercy.  An army unencumbered by the restraints of humanity.

Morality is the only element that Meraux had struggled to instil in his creatures.  The beasts he’d once called his children.  A concept that the German’s have no interest in.  No want for within their army.  But inside every beast, no matter how ferocious, there is always a man waiting to be set free…

DLS Review:
Using H. G. Well’s classic sci-fi novel ‘The Island Of Dr. Moreau’ (1896) as the inspiration and starting platform for the graphic novel, writer David F. Walker has formulated an action-rich and highly entertaining sequel (of sorts), that uses the notion that Wells’ novel was partly based upon fact rather than being entirely the work of fiction.  Inject in a mad Nazi scientist with a plan to create an army of beasts, and you have yourself a damn fine sci-fi / horror story in the making.

The story’s pretty quick to get underway.  It kick starts with a couple of pages of laying down the basic premise – the intercepting of the German documents and the reality of Meraux’s experiments – and then it’s straight to the island and into the midst of ferocious beasts and roaming Nazis troops.

Interestingly there’s no standout obvious principal protagonist.  Instead we have a team of characters for us to side with.  Thomas Beckett and Edward Prentiss are perhaps the two characters pushed to the forefront of the tale.  Then there’s Avi Zeller – the team’s diplomatic advisor – as well as the various Homo-Animalia who play key roles in the outcome of the tale.

The antagonist is determined far easier.  The minute you meet Commandant Metzger you know without any doubt that this vicious son of a bitch is the tale’s principal antagonist.  From the outset he’s presented as a merciless and sadistic Nazi officer, who takes a vile pleasure in torturing and killing the Homo-Animalia whenever he can.

For the most part the story follows two teams – Beckett, Hadley and McNally go off searching for Meraux’s laboratory – the so-called ‘House of Pain’.  Meanwhile Quinn, Zeller and Prentiss search the jungle for anything else – i.e. roaming beasts or patrolling Nazis.
Interspersed with this you have scenes showing Dr Reinhart’s experiments in action along with Metzger’s repeated slaughter of the beasts which his Nazi troops have located, or those that Reinhart’s created through his experiments.

Pacing is generally pretty consistent, with a sense of urgency always gnawing away at each scene.  The use of three or four roving perspectives which the story jumps between, helps to keep the pace charging ahead.  There’s also plenty of bloodshed and savage brutality spiking the tale at pretty much regular intervals.  Basically whenever Metzger shows his heavily-scared face you know to expect some violence and murder.

At the end of each chapter (i.e. the end of each comic book issue) we’re given either extracts out of Prentiss’ journal from when he originally spent time on the island under Meraux’s direction, or top secret correspondence between Avi Zeller and his superiors back home.  These short passages work wonders for fleshing out the whole feel of the tale as well as giving the characters and premise added depth whilst filling in various gaps in the backstory.

Carl Sciacchitano’s artwork and Sara Machajewski’s colouring are absolutely superb.  The line-work is bold and reasonably detailed, with a good amount of shading giving everything a good depth.  Equally, Machajewski’s colouring is absolutely top notch.  There’s a broad range of colours and blending used, not just single blocks of colour.  Furthermore, blood is proper bright red comic book blood that bursts out from beasts and humans with a gushing splatter.  Trust me, you really can’t fault the artwork at all.

To be honest the graphic novel is a fairly quick read.  It’s definitely one you’ll easily get through in one sitting.  Each panel is large, with generally not all that much dialogue contained within them.  Aside from the end of chapter extracts, you’ll pretty much fly through each page, and be at the end of the graphic novel easily inside of an hour.

The graphic novel runs for a total of 128 pages including five pages of Bonus Material by artist Carl Sciacchitano, showing us the process of illustrating the story.

© DLS Reviews


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