“Pride and Prejudice” adapted by Marvel Comics

Marvel's Pride and Prejudice #1 cover

I wish I could use prose as witty and cutting as Jane Austen’s to describe how unpleasant I found Marvel’s comic-book adaptation of her Pride and Prejudice. If you want sparkling prose, I’ll refer you to the source novel. There is little I can say about the comic to its credit, other than it starts off with Austen’s famous introduction:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

From there the comic departs from Austen’s prose. It is a shame adapter Nancy Butler squandered such strong source material in the service of choices like a clumsy character introduction to the Bennet sisters. The art, though, is really where the offense of this adaptation lies.

The color palette is mostly orange and an ugly yellow. The panels on the pages vary wildly, but not in the service of the story. Tones are either dull or too bright, and the gloss of the paper detracts even further. The illustrations of the characters look more like stills taken from a movie than images that tell a story. And the look of the characters would be laughable if they weren’t so dear to me. They are shown with giant white teeth, exactly the same build, and the glossy glamour look is more B movie/soap opera than appropriate for Austen’s time. Marvel, meanwhile, adds insult to injury with intrusive, garish and inappropriate ads that interrupt the story.

The painted cover art, by Sonny Liew, is the one element I liked. (I also liked his work on Vertigo’s My Faith in Frankie and on Re-Gifters) The art style and colors are softer, and more suited to the story than that of the interior. Unfortunately, Marvel mucked up the cover trying to be clever with girl-magazine type headlines.

My only hope is that girls who buy this might be curious to check out the novel. Had Liew painted the interiors, if it used even more of Austen’s prose, and foregone those silly cover headlines, this could have been quite charming. As it is, even as an entry point, I can’t recommend it at all.

One Response to ““Pride and Prejudice” adapted by Marvel Comics”

  1. Steph Says:

    Wow, this whole endeavor is terrifying! I wonder who exactly this is meant to appeal to? I thought the Kiera Knightley adaptation was the worst thing to happen in the Austenverse in a while, but clearly this is worse. Avoiding at all costs!