So far 2020 has been a disaster of year, the pandemic has hit people’s health, their lives, livelihood and what they do for entertainment. Just after the trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune hit the internet the movie was delayed. It will now be released on October 1st 2020. The next big movie releases aren’t due till December, if they remain on the slate. Instead we have to make do with tie-in media for the movie that were fortunately not cancelled. The first book of the Caladan trilogy, The Duke of Caladan, was released earlier in the month. It is written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson and is set right before the events of the classic novel by Frank Herbert. Also released was the first issue of the Dune House Atreides comic series. This is an adaptation of Dune House Atreides by the afore mentioned authors.
Of all of the extended novel series I like The Great Houses the most. It has court intrigue and assassinations. This adaptation was intended to bring Dune to a larger audience just before the release of the movie. Considering the exposure to Dune it less than that of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings that is not a bad idea. This comic series is created by Boom! Studios and illustrated by Dev Pramanik and colored by Alex Guimaraes. The story of issue #1 is set several decades before the events of the Dune novel. Baron Harkonnen has just ousted his brother Abulurd from Arrakis in order to mine the spice himself. His first venture into the desert nearly gets him killed, proving that harvesting the spice is no easy task. Meanwhile on Kaitain the Emperor Elrood IX tasks Pardot Keynes with studying the harsh but delicate environment of Arrakis.
Dune House Atreides and court intrigue
While all that is set in motion the Emperor’s son Shaddam and his best friend Hasimir plot to murder the old man. This adaptation does not hold back and shows how the sly Hasimir infiltrates the emperor’s bed chamber to inject him with a poison catalyst. Every time the emperor drinks spice beer he is poisoning himself. It could take years for the poison to do its thing. That would prevent suspicion from falling on Shaddam and Hasimir. Meanwhile Count Dominic Vernius of Ix has run afoul of the emperor by creating a new and more efficient Heighliner starship. As each trip is taxed the same this Heighliner will mean fewer trips and lower taxes to be paid by the Spacing Guild. Naturally this upsets the Emperor who is also reminded how Dominic married a former concubine the Elrood discarded. This sets the two on a future collision.
Finally, the story moves to Caladan were a young Leto is instructed by his father Paulus to travel to Ix to take up studies with Count Dominic. As a celebration of his son’s departure the Duke holds a bullfight and is nearly gorged. This is an omen of events to come. Reading this adaptation has taken me back to the late 90s when I first read the novel. Back then I understood it would not match the thematic depth of the original novel, but it was certainly very entertaining to read. As I mentioned I enjoyed the courtly intrigue and this first issue is already filled with it, and we have not even seen the Bene Gesserit. With the beautiful pencil work and coloring I am certain I will be reading all 12 issues, and the adaptation of the follow-up novels House Harkonnen and House Corrino.
In short, if you have not read anything Dune related but you want to get into the franchise I can highly recommend this comic adaptation. It remains faithful to the novel series that acts as a prequel to the 1965 classic Dune. That said, nothing can match the original novel by Frank Herbert. If I were you I would also pick up the novel and be prepared to have your mind blown. If you enjoyed this review don’t forget to fill out the subscription widget on the right. You can also visit my dedicated Dune page if you want to know more about this fantastic franchise.