Humanoids original graphic novel Count has acclaimed comic book creator Ibrahim Moustafa bring sci-fi sensibilities to The Count of Monte Cristo.
For over 150 years millions of readers have been enamored with Alexandre Dumas’ classic 1844 prose novel The Count of Monte Cristo and its tale of betrayal and revenge across 19th century France. Acclaimed comic book creator Ibrahim Moustafa has reimagined the enduring story within the science fiction genre in his latest original graphic novel Count, published by Humanoids. And with Moustafa retaining the original source material’s emotional themes and swashbuckling sensibilities, the genre shift itself is completely seamless and proves both just how timeless Dumas’ tale is nearly two centuries later and how strong a grasp Moustafa has on the material while bringing his own creative voice.
Young adventurer Redxan Samud is framed for treason and imprisoned for life in a brutal, remote penal colony by a jealous local magistrate. With his good name tarnished forever and now separated from his blushing, new bride, Redxan searches for a way to escape from captivity and seek revenge on those that wronged him on the outside. As Redxan builds a new identity for himself with a freshly acquired fortune, he begins to question his obsessive commitment to vengeance as he witnesses the toll this vendetta is beginning to exact on the innocents caught in the crossfire.
One of the best things about Moustafa’s imaginative take on this premise and its archetypal characters is, no matter how hard this interpretation of the story leans into its sci-fi possibilities, he always keeps sight of what has made this story endure for decades upon decades. That said, the narrative is just as perfectly accessible to readers that are completely unfamiliar with Dumas’ novel and its numerous multimedia adaptations; at the end of the day, it’s a timeless story about the cost of revenge, no matter how seemingly righteous, and those themes and character depictions transcend genre constraints. That said, Moustafa does take advantage of the sci-fi space without those elements becoming intrusive to the story that he has ambitiously delivered.
And, of course, Moustafa’s artwork remains consistently well-rendered, with his pencils and inks matched by color artist Brad Simpson. From a soaring action set piece that opens the story and shows just how daring Redxan really is to the grungy, floating dungeon our hero is condemned to after being wrongfully imprisoned, Moustafa’s artwork has visible 19th European design sensibilities as a nod to the source material while weaving in futuristic elements organically, including digital counters marking prison sentences and frigates that breeze over planetary surfaces. And when the action does kick in, there is a visible, grounded sense of grit to them as Redxan does whatever he can to survive and unleash furious wrath on everyone that wronged him when he eventually regains his freedom.
At less than 140 pages, Count is a literary adaptation that really moves quickly; Redxan is framed within the first twenty pages of the story. Moustafa isn’t just transposing Alexandre Dumas’ novel into science fiction with narrative sensibilities updated for modern audiences but he’s also streamlining it and leaving his own voice on the story; The Count of Monte Cristo is just the foundation for the tale that Moustafa builds on top of it. There have been radically different takes on this classic story before but Moustafa wisely balances what elements he wants to keep and retain in the forefront and what elements he wants to excise for pacing and breathe new life into the tale with his Eisner Award-nominated creative voice.
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