Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Visually astounding and beautiful
on September 29, 2014
Noah, by writer Darren Aronofsky and artist Nico Henrichon, centers on the story of Noah, a righteous man trying to provide and maintain a peaceful life for his family in a world filled with cruelty. He receives a vision of a great flood that will cleanse the world of humanity’s corruption, prompting him to build a vessel that will house and protect pairs of innocent animals. As he builds the vessel he begins to doubt the precise role of humans in this, and wonders whether a true cleansed world would truly include his species in it.
This graphic novel is based on the first draft of the recent movie’s screenplay, and inspired by the biblical story. In order to review this graphic novel as fairly as possible and avoid opening what could easily be the equivalent of opening can of worms on various sides, I didn’t make any comparisons whilst reading this comic to the movie or the biblical story itself, as to do so would mean for me to enter a very vague and grey area that varies within each reader. I’d also like to thank Image Comics for providing me with a review copy of ‘Noah’, and following my typical review policy, this review is completely honest and detached from this fact. Please take into consideration that I’m not including any religious grounds when rating this graphic novel, however, out of respect for the many differing views of people. Instead I centred this review in the story, character development, and art.
I’d like to start firstly by saying that I loved the art included in the volume. Though it took me at first a bit to get used to (most likely because of the styles I’ve been reading lately in comics), it proved to be a very enjoyable aspect of ‘Noah’. Niko Henrichon’s illustrations are beautiful, as well as incredibly detailed; adding a great atmosphere to the volume as a whole, as well as the characters and the plot. It had a rugged feeling that explained brilliantly the supposed political condition of the world – namely its barbaric situation – whilst keeping the layout clean and easy to follow. The panels were well composed and fit whatever moment they were showing fantastically as well, making for a great and wonderful experience whist reading ‘Noah’ in this sense.
Now, the story in itself is one that we all most likely know, full of potential due to its apocalyptic tone and implications. This is the story of a man faced with the task of building an arc in order to save animals, innocent of the crimes perpetrated by the humans populating the planet. It is deep, and has the great potential to be dark and gritty in a very psychological way. Because of this I was really excited to start reading this reinterpretation of the same story, and, in a way, it didn’t disappoint at all.
The story attempts to distance itself from religion in its interpretation of the story. Rather than be filled with direct commentary between Noah and the creator, it instead offers a more indirect version of communication. This really works in making the story progress and helped in giving a ‘higher’ point of view about the state of the planet and civilization as per Noah. This worked wonders in making the barbaric society headed by Tubal-Cain seem exactly like what it was, additionally avoiding to fall into the classical ‘good v. evil’ trap that many religion or mythology-inspired works seem to fall into within the story itself. It also further included the Book of Enoch in several parts to explain the origin of the fallen angels which appear in order to help Noah, something which I welcomed as a theology-interested person. This inclusion in itself worked really well with the plot and the characters, and wasn’t out of place or overly obvious from the perspective of the plot at any point.
Now, the graphic novel in itself stands at 256 pages. Something which, though considered long for this genre at some points, didn’t seem long enough in order to tell the story. This is where my main negative impression of ‘Noah’ stands. The plot itself is interesting, and the art beautiful; however, many of the characters felt undeveloped and rushed. Additionally, some of the transitions between were also abrupt, giving the impression that some plot details that would impact in character development or world building were being overlooked in some way. This impacted my impression of the characters, not only Noah but also his family, as it seemed like they were too rough – so to say – in comparison to the delicate events surrounding them. Their motivations and internal struggles seemed unexplained or simple at times, which took away from the general enjoyment whilst reading ‘Noah’, and perhaps a bigger or clearer focus on these would have been welcome in order to make them seem even more three-dimensional. In a similar way the dialogue, though at times good, seemed to not be at the same level as the plot and art of the volume, making it generally seem as if more could have been explored in the graphic novel than what it really did.
Noah was, generally speaking, an enjoyable read. I didn’t feel uninterested at any point, and didn’t make me want to put the volume down and stopping my reading. The art was probably the aspect which I liked the most. It is, in my opinion, a wonderful rendition of the original story, and really complimented and showed the meaning of the plot. Similarly, the world that the plot established was intriguing, with an interesting magic system as well as society structure. However, I am unable to give it further than 3 stars because of the lack of development that some areas of ‘Noah’ seemed to have. This is not to mean that the comic is uninteresting or bad, not at all. Rather, like previously explained, it seemed to fall short with the characters and depth; failing if anything in its execution. 'Noah' still remained enjoyable throughout, and will make for an entertaining read, but perhaps fails to become truly memorable.