One of the most widely used storytelling devices is to take an existing book, usually one in the public domain, and add some kind of twist to it. Sometimes this can be absolutely brilliant, others dreadful. “Olivia Twist” by Darin Strauss and Adam Dalva with art by Emma Vieceli falls into the trying too hard to be creative that it’s terrible.
This comic is essentially “Oliver Twist” set in a dystopian future, the main lead is the child of refugees and the characters are gender-swapped. Oh, and Pip from “Great Expectations” is thrown in and Olivia must find him after she escaped from this world’s version of a workhouse.
If you were to remove any relation to “Oliver Twist” this story would just be a generic dystopian future “I need to fight the oppressive government and save my friend” story that’s been done a ton of times. It doesn’t have anything of value to it and comes off as generic and forgettable.
With the “Oliver Twist” items placed in, Strauss and Dalva completely miss the point of Dickens’s story. Oliver was never meant to be some kind of hero. He’s just an orphan who represents how the poor lived and tried to survive in 19th Century England with practically everything going wrong for him. It seems like just adding in sci-fi/fantasy/horror elements to these stories is just a cheap way to make them “more interesting” to a modern audience.
The art is the only positive about this comic. The character designs are great and they show a ton of emotion whenever the scene calls for it. Not to mention when we are shown wide shots of locations they are absolutely breathtaking. On top of that, the use of color, greys for inside the workhouse and an explosion of color for outside, fits perfectly with how each world looks to Olivia.
“Olivia Twist” misses the mark on everything except for art. The story is generic, the characters aren’t that interesting, the world is generic and the point of the source material is lost. Great art does not save this comic from being forgettable.