Pros: "The Raven" is nearly intact, plus there's some great art.
Cons: A few stories edited for space.
Edgar Allan Poes work is nothing new in the annals of graphic noveldom. His work has been adapted more times than I can count, and I always, when I run across such an adaptation, have a look-see. The latest one Ive run across is NEVERMORE, published in 2008 by Sterling Publishing Co and edited by Dan Whitehead. What makes this particular adaptation different from most of the others Ive read is those in charge of the adaptations (Jamie Delano, Jeremy Slater, Laura Howell among them) have cast the Poe stories in a new light, sometimes updated, sometimes post-dated, always set it some new and interesting location, but still trying to retain the heart of what made Poes work what it was.
Sometimes the adaptations succeed, sometimes not. But always the work holds true to the mood and tone of the master.
One of the more interesting versions was Ian Edgintons Murders in the Rue Morgue, which is set in Paris, 2859, with detective C. Auguste Dupin being called to the scene of a double murder, with his court appointed personal optronic encoder epsilon-alpha-pi. Dupin deduces the murders have been perpetrated by an orangutan with the brain patterns of Mssr. Lespanaye via memory en-gram overlays.
Another interesting adaptation was The Tell-Tale Heart which casts the lead as a blind woman working in a clinic that assists the newly-blind in learning to deal with their new darker world. The woman meets a man she thinks can see her and when she goes to check on him one night, she ends up stabbing him. Then, in a panic, stuffs his body into her locker before trying to clean up after herself. Soon the victims heartbeat begins to ring in her ears, keeping her awake all night and driving her mad.
Overall the prose adaptations were interesting and I looked forward with every new title to seeing what would be the new take. But the real star of this book is the art. Stuart Tipples (The Raven), Steve Pugh (The Pit and the Pendulum), John McCrea (The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar), Shane Ivan Oakley (The Fall of the House of Usher) and James Fletcher (The Black Cat) among others turn in some beautifully dark and original interpretations of Poes tales. Fletcher in particular, in his depictions of circus ringleader Harolds growing madness and obsession with the murdered black panther Galenthias, seeing outlines of the giant cat everywhere he looks, impressed me greatly.
I think I may have been able to better appreciate this collection were I more familiar with some of the works. I know The Raven and Pit and Tell-Tale Heart pretty well, but Ive only read M. Valdemar once and dont recall ever having read The Oval Portrait, so for me I cant say those particular stories worked as well.
Several of the adaptations also felt edited for time, as if they would have benefited from another 2 or 3 pages but there just wasnt space. The Murders in the Rue Morgue definitely felt lacking. That particular story is widely-held to be THE first detective story, but in this case, theres almost no mystery and the detective basically solves the thing in two panels.
I got NEVERMORE from the library, and I think thats the way to go. This was an interesting collection, a novel idea, but I dont know if the execution here would be worth the $14.95 cover price. I liked seeing what new twists could be placed on these classic works, but I think in the future Ill probably stick with more faithful Poe adaptations, preferably if they give those adaptations the space they need to properly tell the stories. Poes stories were full of mood and atmosphere, but the other thing they had was PLOT. Poe let his stories unfold naturally to give his readers a front-row seat for the main characters descents into madness, and thats something that just cant be glossed over. Unfortunately the space limitations in NEVERMORE didnt make those natural progressions possible and what we get instead ends up feeling, in too many cases, like just another TALES FROM THE CRYPT knock-off.