“Some bloody holiday this is” – Harker issue 9

Published On November 17, 2009 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Harker issue 9

Plot, story, script – Roger Gibson. Plot, art – Vincent Danks

Ariel Press.


And here we are again, another issue of Harker, another review (for the others try here). By now you can probably write these for yourself. But for those who haven’t been paying attention this is my standard description of Harker:

“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 issue is the third part of the second volume. You don’t need to read the first volume to enjoy this (although I’d obviously recommend it), likewise you don’t really need to read issues 7 & 8 before this one – but why deny yourself that pleasure? All you really need to know is on the inside front cover:

Detective Chief Inspector Harker and his assistant, Detective Sergeant Critchley, specialise in cases of multiple homicide. Harker’s seaside holiday in Whitby is ruined by the brutal stabbing of mystery author Agatha Fletcher, who was at the hotel with her assistant Jasmine Burns to host a murder mystery evening.

Reluctant to deal with the murder case on his vacation, Harker calls in Critchley and Griffin, leaving them to deal with the investigation whilst he spends much of the day on the dodgems. Finally discovered by Critchley, Harker suggests that the case should be left to the local police – as it isn’t a multiple homicide, he feels it’s not a case they should be handling. Critchley agrees and decides to hand the investigation over to the local constabulary in the morning. But as our detectives stroll back to the hotel, a second corpse washes up by the bridge….

The only other thing you really need to know is that Griffin is Harker’s favourite pathologist, although she has a healthy cynical and sarcastic attitude towards “Starsky and Hutch” as she’s taken to calling them.

This issue is another dialogue heavy issue – and we all know that that means lots of good opportunities for some great sarcastic, funny stuff from the cast:

Harker issue 92

(From Harker issue 9 by Gibson and Danks. Harker’s pathologist Griffin gets off on the wrong foot with the local DI. Not to worry, Harker will be along to put him in his place any moment.
Oh, hold on – here he is now……….

Harker issue 93

(Master of the sharp put-down, but also a man very protective of his own team is our DCI Harker. From Harker issue 9 by Gibson and Danks.)

It’s a hugely enjoyable issue, although so far we’re halfway through the volume and we’ve had just two murders and very little actual policing. But I have a feeling that Harker, Critchley and Griffin will come through in the end. They’re busy this issue making connections and identifying suspects – in between the sarcastic one-liners of course.

But the thing we have discovered this time around, especially with Harker’s desperate dash away from the murder last issue and his unwillingness to let the nastiness of his work intrude upon his Whitby retreat, is a little more of the characters of our leads. Harker’s character is becoming far more than a hard-nosed, gruff John Thaw mix of Regan and Morse. And the relationship between Harker and Critchley is slowly coming through as well. Take Harker’s protective attitude to his sergeant in the page above, or Critchley’s reciprocal determination to protect and support his boss in this scene:

Harker issue 91

(“So, yes, he’s off to have a think”. Critchley looks out for his boss, who’s off to decipher the clues to the double murder. From Harker issue 9 by Gibson and Danks.)

The art by Danks is, in all honesty, getting better and better. He’s refining his line as he goes along with Harker, stripping it all down to minimal lines and it works beautifully yet again. He’s also become rather sparing with his wonderful backgrounds – content sometimes to allow his figures to operate against a completely white backdrop when it’s necessary and then, when the story calls for it, back into lush, detailed, wonderfully busy backgrounds once again. Harker’s definitely not just a great story – it’s artistically great as well.

So, no surprise, I’m still going to be shouting, as loud  as I can, for you all to be buying and reading Harker. Nine issues in and it’s still one of the books I enjoy most each month. Harker is available from the FPI store, selected comic shops (the good ones) and from Gibson and Danks directly. Support them, enjoy the book. I know I am.

Richard Bruton.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

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