Harker Volume 1: The Book Of Solomon – One of the best of 2009.
Plot, story, script – Roger Gibson. Plot, art – Vincent Danks
Anyone reading the blog over the past 9 months or so will have surely picked up on my great love of Harker. I’ve championed it since issue 1 and every month have delivered positive review after positive review. So with this first collection I’m hardly likely to have completely changed my mind now am I?
Quite simply – no, of course not. Harker’s a fantastic tale, featuring a great set of characters, mixing all of the best elements of classic genre crime fiction and borrowing extensively from so many classic TV series to create something immediately recognisable and immensely enjoyable. Lots of police procedural stuff, the legwork, the investigations, the hunting down of the clues, the gathering of suspects and so much more. It’s all here in Harker.
So here’s what’s going on in Harker, The Book Of Solomon:
“A horribly mutilated body has been discovered on the steps of st George’s Church in london, just around the corner from the British Museum. Detective Chief Inspector Harker, and his assistant Detective Sergeant Critchley, experts in multiple homicides, are on the case. The body is unidentified and appears to be the result of a horrific ritual killing. Harker is skeptical, but book fibres found underneath the victim’s fingernails have led our detectives on the search for an Occult book: The Key Of Solomon“.
Add to this the delightful dialogue, with Harker and Critchley playing off each other as a perfect comedy double act – Harker as the mysterious world-weary straight man to Critchley’s rapid fire, slightly unhinged funny man. The dialogue and characters certainly aren’t real; no-one really speaks like that all of the time. But Harker isn’t about real characters, just perfectly realised idealised versions of characters we’d possibly like to be. The antecedents are everywhere; Holmes & Watson, Regan & Carter, toss in a bit of Life On Mars’ Gene Hunt for Harker perhaps and you have a little idea of what makes Harker so much fun.
(“Er… Guv?” Still cracks me up. Harker’s about to walk into a little Satanist bat-cave. There’s more art in the review here, but if I were you, I’d just buy the book.)
And in all this praise of Harker’s story and characterisation, it would be remiss of me not to mention Vince Danks’ art that simply and effectively adds so much to the book with simple lines, intricate figure work that seamlessly choreographs the comic as his figures flow naturally across the page against backgrounds that are worthy of Gerhard’s finest work on Cerebus.
(Part of the centre-piece of the first volume, Harker and Critchley sit in a pub and Harker tells Critchley how to do this police lark properly; no Satanist nonsense, no pissing about with occult books, just good, old-fashioned police work. And a perfect panel to show off Vince Danks’ stunning artwork on the series.)
Like some bloke says on the back of the book: Harker’s a great detective thriller with intriguing story, wonderful art, cracking dialogue and moments of laugh out loud comedy … an absolute triumph of a comic. This first book really does have everything you could ever want in great genre writing. I’ve recommended it since the start. I’m certainly not stopping now.