The Esthers have rescued Olivia and now Pip, and Olivia has to work off what she owes them – by thievery. Can she bring herself to do it? And who is the terrifying man in the red cloak?

Olivia Twist #2 ReviewOLIVIA TWIST #2

Writers: Darin Strauss and Adam Dalva
Artist: Emma Vieceli
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics, Inc.
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 24, 2018

Previously in Olivia Twist: We find ourselves in a dystopian London of 2050 where the title character has grown up in a workhouse. Parallels to Dickens abound, but the story is very much rooted in a near future that feels like is has sprung from our present. Upon reaching her eighteenth birthday, when Olivia reaches adulthood and discovers her future destiny, she learns that she is slated to continue working for Provis Corporation, the owner of the workhouse. She makes a daring escape, with a small boy in tow, but he doesn’t make it out with her. On the streets, she is found and taken in by the Artful Dodger to the digs of a group of street thieves, the Esthers, led by an angular, one-eyed woman called Fagin.

TESTS, TRUST, AND BETRAYAL

It is a hard life in the world of Olivia Twist #2. Olivia narrates, telling us that the Artful Dodger is doing her dirty work, which is going back for Pip. We briefly see Richard being questioned about Olivia, but then the Dodger is in the dorm, looking for the young boy. An older boy holds Pip’s mouth shut and claims to be him, but the Dodger wasn’t born yesterday. She faces him down and runs with the real Pip, only to find that he really wants his toy Apatosaurus.

As Olivia wonders whether she should stay with the Esthers, the Artful Dodger comes back with Pip (and the Apatosaurus), and some information for Fagin. She found a photo of Olivia’s mother, which Fagin takes. The following morning, a young man by the name of Charley Bates shows up to start Olivia’s burglary training. But she doesn’t want to be a thief! No matter – the Esthers rescued Pip, and now Olivia owes them, for him as much as for herself. We also meet the main Esthers, Thérèse Defarge, Little Nell Trent, and Nicola Nickleby (who appears to be transgender, which is cool.)

Meanwhile, at Provis, Christian Krespo is talking with Monks, a man in a cape who has been killing Levantine girls. Monks is killing out of frustration that the girls are not Olivia. Krespo needs Olivia alive to open a locket belonging to his ex-partner, Leewood (Olivia’s father).

With the pickpocket training scene, we get a little more background. Apparently, America has been destroyed, but the wealthy came over to England and took over. We also learn a little more about the other gang, the Trads, who augment themselves with tech. Olivia is finally successful and has a moment of happiness as she feels like she’s part of a team. But her cooperation comes at a cost – Pip’s continued freedom depends upon it.

The discussion of tech leads into the next scene, with Krespo addressing the board at Provis. Their latest tech is an eye-drive – a retinal computer. This meeting is going on as the Esthers enter the tower that is Vertical City to test Olivia’s new skills. And as Krespo talks, he gets a message from Monks that he has found the girl they are looking for. Downstairs, Olivia is accosted by a man who wants to sell her stuff. A truly dystopian feature, he is an automated add that syncs to her ID card. Just imagine of the custom ads you see in your browser came to virtual life as people trying to sell stuff to you. It makes me shudder. Anyway, Olivia makes her move, freezes, and is called out as a thief. As the Esthers cause a distraction so she can get away, Monks arrives. He stabs Therese, but the others get away. Outside, in the rain, they run into some Trads, and as the fight ensues, Monks shows up again and greets Olivia, then proceeds to fight members from both gangs. Olivia feels like she recognizes him from her nightmares. Then he collapses from a seizure, and the young people flee.

Back at the Esthers’ hangout, Fagin, holding the photo of Olivia’s mother, puts in a call to Christian Krespo.

FULL OF STYLE AND ATTITUDE

Olivia Twist #2 gets deeper into the world and does so with panache. The year is 2050 – in the future, but not all that hugely far away from today. That comes through loud and clear in the settings and people in this issue. I like that the clothing is a mix of modernistic with a quasi-Dickensian flare. Along with piercings, blue hair, and asymmetrical jacket collars, we also get corsets, puffed sleeves and ruffles.

Color plays a big role here as well, doing some of the heavy lifting for overall mood, and certainly for directing the eye. The Esthers’ lair is red in tone, and feels very warm and closed in. The interior of the Provis offices are gray and sterile. The overall palette is muted, but everything really looks great – it gives the whole thing a gritty feeling, and this certainly is a gritty world.

I love the pickpocket scenes, both in training and when Olivia goes to Vertical City. The facial expressions are terrific, with the Esthers looking cool and casual throughout, and then Olivia’s terror as she cannot steal, and as she almost gets caught.

BOTTOM LINE: HALFWAY THROUGH AND THE ACTION RAMPS UP

Olivia Twist #2 is the midpoint of a 4-issue story. There is a lot going on, but there is clearly much more to go. Olivia is narrating this as her past. She has managed to get through all this, somehow, we just don’t know how, especially since it is rapidly becoming clear that she cannot trust the people outside the workhouse any more than she could trust the ones inside it.

Olivia Twist #2

97%
97%
A lot going on

Olivia Twist #2 is the midpoint of a 4-issue story. There is a lot going on, but there is clearly much more to go. Olivia is narrating this as her past. She has managed to get through all this, somehow, we just don’t know how, especially since it is rapidly becoming clear that she cannot trust the people outside the workhouse any more than she could trust the ones inside it.

  • Writing
    10
  • Art
    9
  • Coloring
    10
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By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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