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The Phantom of the Opera

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA By Cavan Scott, Art by Jose Maria Beroy from @ComicsTitan #BookReview #Comic #GraphicNovel #PhantomoftheOpera

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA By Cavan Scott, Art by Jose Maria Beroy

Titan Comics, h/b, £26.99

Reviewed by Matthew Johns

The front cover of The Phantom of the Opera by Cavan Scott and Jose Maria Beroy. An image of a man in a black suit with a white mask covering half of his face dominates the page. He is looking down on a woman dressed in white. She is reaching up to him while his hands seem to manipulate her movements. There are red curtains behind them.

Based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s worldwide smash hit musical, this graphic novel is a very faithful reproduction of the storyline that is well-known and well-loved by many.

Mirroring the stage production closely, it opens 30 years after the events of the musical. The theatre is unkempt, cobweb-strewn and has not seen a performance on its stage for many a year. An auctioneer is onstage, surrounded by boxes, costumes, scenery and props, offering up a wind-up musical box with a monkey playing cymbals seated on top. Everything bar the monkey is monochrome, reinforcing the glum state of the theatre – unloved, unused, save for the auction.

An old man in a wheelchair purchases it and reminisces about an unnamed lady who often talked about it. Then, a broken chandelier is offered up as the ominously numbered lot 666, said to be the same one that figured in the famous tale of the Phantom of the Opera.

As the chandelier bursts into light and regains its place of pride above the auditorium, the theatre is filled with colour and brought back to life as we journey back 30 years in the space of a single frame. Actors and singers rehearse for a new production of Hannibal, and the elderly theatre owner comes onstage to introduce two new owners of the theatre as he retires. As the diva sings a solo for the new owners, the scenery collapses from the flies, barely missing her. Aghast, the diva and the company blame the Opera Ghost…

The rest of the story follows the musical almost to the letter – Christine Daae receives tutoring from her angel of music (aka the eponymous Phantom) and swiftly rises to be a star, but is very much under his control and scared to do anything but obey his commands. Raoul, a childhood friend, is in the audience one night and tries to whisk her out for supper, but the Opera Ghost has other ideas.

Beroy’s art really brings the tale to life – incorporating the lyrics to Lloyd Webber’s legendary songs into the panels, filling the tale with vibrant colours and music. The story flows across the panels, with the 19th-century theatre and its occupants lovingly depicted in full colour throughout. Beroy uses colour effectively, with a realistic style for the characters and backgrounds. It’s an absolute delight in the hands with a thick, hardback cover displaying the Phantom and his muse, and the thick, glossy paper gives it a luxurious feel. It’s an easy read thanks to a combination of the easy-to-follow art and Scott’s adaption of the original libretto.

The Phantom is vengeful, angry, and even petulant when his demands are not met by the new owners, and Christine begins to fall in love with Raoul. But Beroy and Scott also manage to show his vulnerability – his burning desire to be loved as well as obeyed, making him pitiable towards the end, despite his crimes. In the end, even the most hard-hearted will find it difficult to bear ill will against the poor Phantom.

A must-have for any fan of Lloyd Webber’s work, this will doubtless take pride of place on many a bookshelf and can be revisited time and again to relive Christine’s adventures with the Phantom without the cost of a West End theatre ticket! Stick on the soundtrack from your preferred music format/platform, pour a glass of something delicious and curl up as Scott and Beroy take you back to 1870s Paris.

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