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Library Journal★ 11/15/2013
First published in 2003, this compelling counternarrative is framed as Fagin's apologia to Dickens and folds in plenty of historical background about Jews in Europe and England during the late 19th century. This new edition adds a foreword from writer Brian Michael Bendis, plus a meaty afterword by Canadian journalist Jeet Heer, with additional sources. Once chided for portraying a stereotypical African American, Ebony White, who was the sidekick to main character Denny Colt from The Spirit (1940), comics legend Eisner (A Contract with God) turned in later life to challenging stereotypes, here of the "evil Jew" Fagin in Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. Eisner's reenvisioned character becomes somewhat like Oliver in that his impoverished background makes him more prone to fall into crime simply to survive. Fagin thereby becomes a more nuanced character with a streak of goodness while still part of a heart-jerking melodrama—though Eisner's skill lies in his sepia brushwork more than in his words. VERDICT Several hundred U.S. libraries already own the earlier version of this classic of literary comics, which is excellent fodder for classrooms and discussion groups of tweens through adults. Larger libraries may want this expanded edition also, and libraries without the previous version should snap this up.—M.C.