Review by C.J. Bunce

In advance of a two-part set of movies starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem targeted to come to theaters in 2021 from director Denis Villeneuve, a new three-book graphic novel series is heading your way next month from Abrams Books.  The first part, Frank Herbert’s Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book One is available for pre-order here at Amazon.    

So how faithful is the graphic novel to Herbert’s original novel?

First, the graphic novel is not a tie-in to the forthcoming movie, but an attempt to re-create the original novel in visual form.  As in the novel, the first book is light on action, heavy on political machinations.  Usually a difficult type of story to translate to the comics format, Spanish artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín avoid as much as possible the “talking head” panels that typically burden political dramas, taking advantage of color and crisp, easily identifiable characters.  Although the story is heavy on explanatory text, an assassination attempt and first encounter with a giant sandworm will conjure the iconic imagery fans of the original novel–and previous adaptations–will be looking for.

First translated in 1984 by Marvel Comics, Dune sees familiar science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson creating the latest adaptation of Herbert’s 1965 work with his co-author from 14 Dune follow-on novels, Brian Herbert, Frank’s son.  Artists Allén and Martín adhere to Frank Herbert’s novel, translating the science fiction/fantasy elements scene for scene in a very deliberate manner, accompanied by a beautiful cover by legendary artist Bill Sienkiewicz. 

Set in a sprawling feudal interstellar society, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides as he and his high-ranking family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis.  Blending adventure, mysticism, and politics, Dune is more high-fantasy than science fiction–anyone looking for your typical outer space adventure will not find it here.  But fans of the material will likely be happy that the creators avoid taking liberties with the source material, no doubt because of the reverence taken by Brian Herbert for his father’s work.

Here is a preview of Frank Herbert’s Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book One plus character style guides, courtesy of Abrams Books, which will give you a good feel for the new series of graphic novels:

 

It’s a solid, straight-forward beginning to the series.  You can pre-order the first book, Frank Herbert’s Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book One now here at Amazon, available November 24, 2020.  And you can always catch up on the original Herbert novel here and the original David Lynch cult hit film from 1984 starring Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Brad Dourif, Linda Hunt, Everett McGill, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Sean Young, Alicia Witt, Dean Stockwell, and Max Von Sydow here.  A spin-off television series is in the works, a prequel series titled Dune: The Sisterhood, being prepared for HBO Max.  Denis Villeneuve’s film Dune has a targeted release date of December 18, 2020, delayed a year for the pandemic.