Friday, May 09, 2014

Comic Bookshelf: Noah (2014)

Aronofsky's Noah makes some difficult choices
 in an effort to achieve his purpose.
The cover to Noah.
Publisher: Image Comics
Writers: Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel
Illustrator: Nico Henrichon
Letterer: Nicholas Senegas
Price: $29.99

In recent months I've found myself reading more mini-series and graphic novels with insular narratives. As a result my comic bookshelf has grown as my comic book pull sheet has fluctuated. Graphic novels, in-particular, offer a unique opportunity to the reader to go in recognizing that in all likelihood (barring a sequel) the worlds they enter and the story being told, will conclude at the book's end.

Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky has dabbled in the form before. Previously, when his film 2006 movie The Fountain was released in theaters, a graphic novel adaptation of his original script, including some plot elements that did not make it into the movie, was published by Vertigo. A few weeks ago, to coincide with the  big screen release of Noah (2014), starring Russell Crowe, Image Comics released a deluxe edition, hardcover graphic novel based on Aronofsky's script. While this was not originally on my "must read" list, after coming across some Nico Henrichon sketches from the book, I asked by local comic shop to order one for me.

Huge in scope and detailed in execution.
Having not seen the movie, I can only review the book Noah on its own merits. The artwork is clearly not created with the actors involved as models, and for a story of this nature that proves a good thing. Detail in execution with an almost watercolor like quality to the coloring, Noah reveals itself like a complex series of storyboards with a heavy emphasis on storytelling visuals. The dialogue that is present serves only to offer exposition, as the artwork clearly communicates the large action set pieces depicted.

As characterized by the writers and artists involved, this Noah is a much more shamanistic in appearance and action than the one most will recall from the Old Testament. In truth, the Biblical basis for the character offers little more than thin story devoid of much beyond a superficial character outline, so by necessity, Aronofsky is tasked with creating more three-dimensional character, complete with a denser backstory. In addition to borrowing obvious plot beats from the Bible, the backstory adds what seems logical (?) and sensible suggestions as to our protagonist's motivations behind building the ark and how the ark's construction comes to pass.

Two-by-two, the animal kingdom aids Noah...
Make no mistake though, as the back of the book reminds the reader, this is a work of "Fantasy/Mythology," albeit it one unafraid to build the myth using pieces alluded to in biblical text. An effort to marry the fantastic and religious elements through the use of scriptural quotes to reinforce the artists' interpretation of the stories (including Creation), put forth therein.

At $29.99, Noah is not inexpensive, but the high quality of its presentation and the clear energy and effort on display does make it a highly re-readable book. Unlike some more disposable entertainment product out there (most books, DVDs, and comic-book tie-ins), I am certain find myself revisiting Aronofsky, Handel and Henrichon's Noah. Even better I look forward to sharing my copy and recommending the purchase of this beautiful book with others.

Rating: 5/5

No comments: