Bringing Jules Verne’s work to the distant future, this story of secrets, trauma, and survival captures the spirit and adventure of classic literature while also embracing a new vision for a story many may not have encountered before now.

From Image Comics, Jules Verne’s Lighthouse adapts the early 20th century novel The Lighthouse at the End of the World into a sci-fi epic set in the far reaches of the galaxy in the year 2717. In a time where humans, aliens, and robots live and work together, a small band oversee the isolated, advanced supercomputer known as The Lighthouse, which guides interstellar ships safely through a series of wormholes on their journeys to outer reaches of space. However, when a violent band of pirates arrives at The Lighthouse and seizes control, military veteran Vasquez and her robot assistant Moses are the only ones to escape into the dangerous landscape around the installation. Cut off from help and low on resources, it falls to Vasquez to uncover the pirates’ reasons for seizing the facility and try to stop their plans before it’s too late—if she can face the demons of her own past and survive long enough to see the job done, that is.

Opening with Vasquez’s narration, this miniseries immediately captures something of the tone of the classic adventure novels that form its foundation. Though I have not read Verne’s original novel, many of the markers of its plot are alive and well in this adaptation from Hine and Haberlin. From the dramatic arrival of the pirates through Vasquez’s desperate struggles to escape and into the final confrontation, this comic is a classic conflict of wills and might as our beleaguered hero faces incredible odds and ever-increasing stakes. However, the creators do not tie themselves wholly to the source material. Making use of the sci-fi reimagining, they create and expanded world of inter-planetary conflict, factious alliances, and world-razing warfare. It is in this blending of traditional adventure and grand science fiction that the comic finds life beyond a simple retelling of Verne’s work.

Though some of the thematic work around race, trauma, and warfare doesn’t always have quite enough room to breathe over the course of five action-packed issues, the creators achieve a great deal of depth and complexity within this single volume. Though there are plenty of action sequences, the story does not shy away from the darkness of its heroes or the nuances of its villains. With bold twists and a larger world always creeping in at the edges of the narrative, Hine and Haberlin show that they understand the dual genres they are working in and strive to do justice to both.

Meanwhile, Haberlin’s artwork does a great deal to capture the reimagined world of this version of the story. Opening on The Lighthouse floating amidst a starry expanse dotted with wormholes, the beauty and isolation of the story are immediately clear. The art brings a roughness and realism to the pages while still bringing style to the realism, displaying both the grand and the personal in bold fashion. The paneling and art move the story along, delivering a quick pace, occasional humor, and moments of shock in just the right places. Personally, Moses’s perpetually awkward robot grin was a highlight of a consistently dependable visual style.

Image gives Jules Verne’s Lighthouse a Mature rating, and with strong language, violence, and some mature thematic material, it is definitely intended for older audiences, be they mature teens or adults. For any collection that prizes adventure stories as well as science fiction, this title is well worth adding to the shelves. While being a complex and exciting tale in its own right, it’s also a great way to introduce readers to a novel they might never have encountered before. For a miniseries with great ambitions—that are mostly achieved by the end—Jules Verne’s Lighthouse isn’t the most remarkable comic out there, but it’s certainly worth considering for a place on the shelves.

Jules Verne’s Lighthouse
By David Hine, Brian Haberlin,  ,
Art by  Brian Haberlin
Image, 2021
ISBN: 9781534319936

Publisher Age Rating: M
Related media:  Book to Comic

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Character Representation: Assumed Hispanic or Latine,  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Josh

    | he/him Technical Services Librarian

    Reviewer

    Josh Gauthier worked a technical services librarian in Maine before taking a detour into the tech field. He has a BA from the University of Southern Maine and an MFA from the Stonecoast creative writing program. Beyond his day job, Josh is also a fiction writer and playwright. You can find him discussing topics such as writing, comics, fiction, and pop culture on various social media platforms as @JG_Writer.

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