Kindred

Octavia Butler, Damian Duffy, and John Jennings. Abrams ComicArts, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0947-0
Dana, an African-American woman in the 1970s, is thrust backward in time to a 19th-century Maryland plantation. Over many visits to the past, she realizes that the spoiled son of the plantation owner is her ancestor, destined to father children with a slave, and she must protect his life to ensure her own existence. Butler’s celebrated 1979 novel, here adapted into a graphic novel, starts with a gripping idea and builds skillfully, as both Dana and her white husband in the present are warped by slavery and become complicit in its evil. This graphic novel recaps the classic source material faithfully without adding much to justify the adaptation, although it may find some new readers. The blocky artwork lacks the subtlety to evoke the complexity of the novel or the vividness of its historical settings (in addition to the antebellum South, the adaptation preserves the 1970s setting of the “present-day” sections). It’s an effective recap, clearly produced with great love and respect, but the book remains the gold standard. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/07/2016
Release date: 01/10/2017
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