REVIEW: Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas by Stacy King
The victim of a miscarriage of justice, the Count of Monte Cristo is fired by a desire for retribution and empowered by a stroke of providence. In his campaign of vengeance, he becomes an anonymous agent of fate. The sensational narrative of intrigue, betrayal, escape, and triumphant revenge moves at a cracking pace. Alexandre Dumas’ novel presents a powerful conflict between good and evil embodied in an epic saga of rich diversity that is complicated by the hero’s ultimate discomfort with the hubristic implication of his own actions.
Alexandre Dumas” “Count of Monte Cristo” together with his “Three Musketeers” and “Twenty Years After” are amongst my top ten favorite books I have ever read. I read the novel several times (even though I have not revisited it for four or five years), loved it and can highly recommend it to everyone who loves historical adventure and in my opinion unsurpassed tales of the character taking his just revenge over his enemies. Here I am not reviewing the original though; I am reviewing a manga based on the Dumas novel.
Please understand that when I read/watch the stories based on the classical stories that I love my main criteria for evaluation was, is and always will be is how faithful to the original it is. I am very firmly convinced that nobody can transform “Three musketeers” or “Count of Monte Cristo” and make it better than the original was. Therefore, I require faithfulness in spirit at least. I understand of course that the movies or manga, as it is in this case, is a different kind of art and cannot bring to life every detail of the original, but I am not interested in watching/ reading the story which claims to have an original as a basis for it and ends up being something else entirely. I have to say that this manga did pretty good where the faithfulness to the original is concerned while using the pictures extremely well to condense some parts of the story.
For those of you who do not know the plot of the novel, here is a very brief set up. The Count of Monte Cristo in his past life used to be called Edmund Dantes, a young sailor whose life was destroyed or I shall say almost destroyed by those he considered his closest friends. Those “friends” falsely accused him of working against his own country. He was sent to the horrible prison for many years (fourteen) and the woman he loved did not wait for him and instead married one of his former friends.
Edmund suffered horribly in prison but luckily another prisoner whom he befriended helped him a great deal and basically because of that prisoner (trying to keep the details as vague as possible here in case there are people who have not seen the movie either) Edmund reinvented himself and like a phoenix became the Count of Monte Cristo. He decided to execute elaborate revenge upon his former friends and when I say elaborate boy do I mean elaborate!
The rest of the book is basically the Count executing his revenge and what comes out of it. Well, and occasionally he is helping some nice people in the terrible circumstances too.
One of the main reasons why the novel resonated with me so much was because way too often in fiction I *want* a beloved wronged character to have their revenge over their enemies and the authors rarely, if ever, allow it. Oh believe me; I know that revenge can destroy you, but I do not think that this is the only possible outcome and I was and still am beyond grateful to Dumas that he allowed the Count to come out on top. It does not mean that the guy does not struggle with the consequences to the certain degree, but I thought that the only issue was that innocent people can be hurt during the execution of one’s plans no matter how carefully one plans. The bad people in Dumas’ novel still deserved everything that came upon them whether one agrees with the Count that he became a weapon of God in punishing his enemies or not.
But I digress, as I said I am reviewing the Manga here, even though I am not sure how I could have done so without talking about the plot of the novel. As I said I thought overall it did pretty well keeping the story pretty close to the original – a lot of story is in the manga, and the creators did an amazing job condensing some points of the story in the drawings. The artist and the writer specifically talk about how they condensed the plot at the end of the manga and the example they give, how they condensed three chapters of the novel by drawing the certain Ball was awesome and I did agree that it was very well done.
However, as much as I loved the drawings, I did not care for the summaries of the certain plot points by the writer. I understand that the original was a VERY long book, but I did not find those very impressive. Luckily the authors did not subject the reader to that many summaries and of course opinions may differ on how well the parts of the stories were verbally summarized.
I was anxious about manga style art in the book in the first place; however for the most part, I found it suited the story very well.