Review: ‘Count’ puts a science fiction spin on a classic novel

Ibrahim Moustafa’s new graphic novel from Humanoids adapts ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ into a science fiction story, but ‘the magic is in what Moustafa and team add to it.’

When I was in school I was asked to read a lot of books deemed “classics.” Some I thought were okay, some I had to pull myself through even though I hated them, some I grew to love over time, but there was one book that had me hooked from the very first chapter. That book is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.

I absolutely adored it. It had an interesting hero, wrongly accused and searching for revenge, it had a daring escape from prison, and an interesting message. I had the pleasure of reading an adaptation of this wonderful story, this time with it turned into a science fiction tale. To say I was ecstatic to read this is an understatement, and this book lived up to that excitement.

Retitled simply Count, it’s written and drawn by Ibrahim Moustafa (High Crimes, Mother Panic) along with Brad Simpson as colorist and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou as letterer. And they all brought their “A” game here. It’s a faithful retelling of the story with a new skin to all the characters and settings.

Readers of the original book will find all the pieces in place, and that familiar tale is told well, but the magic is in what Moustafa and team add to it. Adding more tragedy and loss to a story already full to the brim with it was something that could have thrown off the balance, but it didn’t. Setting it as a science fiction tale also lets Moustafa show off his brilliant designs, as pirate ships become airships and prison islands become floating towers. The world is bright and colorful with “literally” glowing armor, fairytale-like wings made from technology and high-tech pirate ships floating through the air. I LOVED IT.

The main character is likable, as he goes from a naive young man to a hardened fighter willing to do what he needs to survive and get revenge on those who wronged him. But the book really shines through its full cast of characters, who I immediately wanted to read more about. I found myself wanting to see the further adventures of the pirate captain or the resistance fighters in this book. The world created here deserves more exploration. That’s a sign of a story well told if you want spinoffs from a re-imagined retelling of a classic story.

Upon finishing the book, I also found myself wanting to read more retellings from Moustafa and the team. I want to know what he would do with The Three Muskateers, The Man in the Iron Mask, A Tale of Two Cities, Crime and Punishment, or even Anna Karenina. There’s so much potential there that could be explored. All are timeless tales that could be retold in many different settings or genres, and Ibrahim Moustafa and team have proven here that they could work wonders with each of them. I know I’ll be waiting with bated breath for whatever tale they produce next; no matter what, it’s sure to be a classic.

Count is published by Humanoids and is available in stores and on digital now.

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