Harker issue 8 – wonderful business as usual for the nation’s grumpiest cop…
By Roger Gibson and Vince Danks
Oh, I may as well give up on this review right here. By now you know I really enjoy this right? You’ve maybe seen the reviews here, here, here, here and here? Or maybe read the blurb on the back of Harker Volume 1 by me:
“A great detective thriller with intriguing story, wonderful art, cracking dialogue and moments of laugh out loud comedy…. an absolute triumph of a comic.”
So am I getting completely tedious in my affection and enjoyment for and of Harker? I shall keep this one brief as reviewing a series month by month eventually means that one begins to run out of new and original ways to praise it. It’s still beautifully written crime comedy stuff from Gibson with some really lovely art from Danks. The only downside to this storyline is that Danks doesn’t really get to amaze us with those wonderfully drawn bits of architecture that featured in the first London-centric storyline. But there’s still an awful lot to admire in Danks’ artwork which, with every passing issue, is becoming more refined, more stylised. He’s utilising a slightly simpler line here and whether it’s a necessary by-product of the monthly schedule or a deliberate decision it really doesn’t matter, it’s lovely to look at and perfectly suited to both the delightful character study of the three principals and the ongoing murder case(s).
Each storyline is very much a self contained thing so there’s no need to read Volume 1; The Book Of Solomon to enjoy Volume 2; Murder By The Book. It’s set up so all you need is a knowledge of who and what Harker and Critchley are to really enjoy each volume as a completely standalone thing. But if you do pick up Harker from this issue I fully expect you to be so intrigued and entertained that you’ll then go back and get everything that has gone before.
(What’s that floating in the water behind you DCI Harker? Oh dear, I think your peaceful seaside holiday may be coming to an end. From Harker #8 by Gibson & Danks.)
If you didn’t already know what this Harker storyline’s about here’s the blurb from the inside cover of this issue:
“Detective Chief Inspector Harker and his assistant, Detective Sergeant Critchley, specialise in cases of multiple homicide. Harker is enjoying a few days off in one of his favourite places in the world: Whitby. … His seaside idyll is disturbed by the arrival of mystery author Agatha Fletcher … staying at the hotel to host a Murder mystery weekend. When the evening begins with the death of Agatha, stabbed brutally while the lights were out, Harker finds himself with no choice but to call in Critchley and Griffin to help with the case. But where has Harker disappeared to?”
And that’s where we start here in issue 8, with Harker AWOL and acting very much like a man determined not to be dragged back into his normal life and Critchley stepping on the toes of the local plod to investigate the murder. But he’s not exactly sure why he’s here, since he’s a multiple homicide specialist. And this isn’t a multiple homicide. Well, not yet.
This is another nice setup issue, reuniting the principal players, with Harker, Critchley and forensic specialist Griffin getting drawn into the case, as Critchley starts interviewing the suspects, Griffin gets dragged down on Harker’s request as well and Harker desperately tries to keep out of it all, grabbing onto the rapidly fading hope of a nice seaside holiday.
(Griffin our wise-cracking pathologist is dragged into this one as well, making our threesome complete.)
As usual with these early setup issues we’re here for the interplay between the leads more than anything else and there are some really lovely sequences that should raise a smile or two:
“Everybody likes kippers, Critchley. It’s the law. Nip back to the hotel with me and I’ll fish them out for you.”
“Fish them out, get it?” “I made a joke there. You’re supposed to laugh, I’m your boss.”
“Yes Guv. I’m laughing on the inside, honest.”
“Wouldn’t it be ironic though?”
“Wouldn’t what be ironic?”
“Well, y’know, if a second corpse did show up after all.”
And with that, you just know how this is all going to develop don’t you? I’ll be eagerly awaiting issue 9. Hopefully you’ll be doing the same. Harker is still the comic I look forward to most each month. It’s become a guarantee of an enjoyable read, month in, month out. Join me.