Graphic Novel Review: Dante’s Inferno

(Titan Books, �14.99)

COMIC book spin-offs from video games are rarely anything but opportunistic cash cows, tapping in to a pre-existing fanbase and encouraging them to spend more of their hard-earned money.

Of course, there is always an exception to buck the trend, and Dante’s Inferno is a remarkable fusion of intelligent story-telling with stunning painted artwork, taking inspiration from both Dante’s poem The Divine Comedy and the plot of the videogame to create a new work which is sure to win over a whole new audience.

Holy warrior Dante Alighieri returns from the Crusades to find his beloved fianc�e Beatrice has been murdered, and her soul ensnared by Lucifer and secreted away in the darkest depths of Hell. Determined to rescue his lover from the abyss, Dante plunges into the underworld in search of her stolen soul…

Writer Christos Gage captures the allegorical nature of the original poem, showing one’s journey through hell in life and the human foibles they must extinguish if they are to find salvation, but does not bury his story beneath medieval metaphoric poetry, instead choosing to find his own voice to tell his narrative.

However, he admirably succeeds in evoking the grim melodramatic atmosphere of Dante’s work, unquestionably aided by the art of Diego Latorre, which succeeds in being both beautiful and horrific, although is sometimes flawed in its ability to push the story onwards due to a lack of sequential flow.

Nobody could argue that reading a comic book or playing a video game is any alternative to reading a work of classic literature, but if this project inspires just a handful of people to explore Alighieri’s epic poem then it has achieved something truly special. If not, then both stand alone as first-rate examples of what can be achieved within their respective genres, and how there is simply no excuse for poor quality from either.

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