What should have been a lead into the biggest movie of the holiday season, now sits as a simple prequel to a movie due out at some point. BOOM! Studios releases this week Dune: House Atreides 1 that starts the story that leads into the forthcoming movie. For anyone wanting to see the (presumed to be) blockbuster movie and who haven’t read the book, I highly suggest getting into these comics.
For those unfamiliar with Dune, it started as a book from author, Frank Herbert and became one of the great literary classics in science fiction literature. It later spawned a very solid movie in 1984 of the same name with an all-star cast. The story stays family friendly for the most part, but I would say most kids will not enjoy Dune simply because it is a heavy, slow-moving, political story. It contains plenty of visuals and sci-fi moments, but at its heart Dune is a political drama revolving around a single substance – Spice (aka-Melange)!
House Atreides 1 – What Is Spice?
To understand Dune, one needs to understand Spice and its affect on the galaxy. A great explanation comes from the opening of the 1984 movie. Nerdist.com also has a great article on Spice. Essentially it makes the universe go round. It makes space travel possible including the actual folding of space. A person can fold space and go from one spot to another without moving. It powers the ships, but it also grants extreme powers to its users from extending life by decades, to psychotropic abilities and the ability to see through time in either direction. Of course it is highly addictive!
What does any of this have to do with the comic? Everything. The movie trailers for the forthcoming film concentrate on the visuals and all-star cast, but they say nothing about Spice when it’s the Spice that sits at the heart of the story. House Atreides 1 also begins its story with Spice and the only planet it can be found on, Arrakis (aka-Dune).
Arrakis is nothing more than a giant sand ball floating through Space. Sand from one end to the other, but it is also the only known place to harvest Spice. It also harbors one other unique item. Swimming in the sands of Arrakis are giant sandworms, and by giant I mean capable of swallowing buildings. They can measure over 400 yards long and 40 yards across with circular maws as wide as their bodies. Their mouths, once opened, sport row upon circular row of teeth. They put sharks to shame. To harvest the Spice, miners need to learn how to deal with these giant worms.
House Atreides 1 – Setting the Intrigue
Again, what does this have to do with the comic? This comic will not be for everyone. It covers a lot with very little depth and on the surface doesn’t seem to add up to much; HOWEVER! For anyone wanting to explore the world of Dune, you need to read this comic. It sets up all of the intrigues and Houses of the movie.
Atreides 1 starts by setting up the function and importance of Spice, but then it shifts gears quickly to Kaitain, home of the ruling Emperor. It sets some of the dysfunction of the royal house. For example it lays the groundworks for a young, ambitious Shaddam IV, who will be the ruling Emperor during the movie. It shifts again to Caladan, home of House Atreides, source of the title of this comic, and a major plot in the movie. The story itself seems a bit superfluous, but where it leads is definitely not!
In and of itself this issue does not sit very well. Even though it is a #1 and needs to set up a great deal, it fails to focus on any one thing, but for anyone wishing to enter into the realm of Dune, this is a MUST! Dune as a universe encompasses a great many planets, houses, and societies. This comic needs to work broadly in order to set up everything to come. Dune at its heart is a wonderful political drama, but a drama none-the-less. Tread accordingly, but it does not sit as one of the great stories for nothing.