COMIC REVIEW: Harker – The Book of Solomon

If I described this book as the lovechild of Morse and the Sweeney would you read on?

Opening with a grisly murder on the steps of a London church, this Titan Books hardcover provides us with an updated version of classic British detective shows.

Our protagonists are Detective Chief Inspector Harker and his amiable sidekick Detective Sergeant Critchley. Harker is the prototypical quirky detective, he lacks social skills, is hard to deal with, drives a classic car and refuses to carry a mobile phone. Critchley is more the everyman character, although with his shades and sports car you can tell he’s trying to play it a little cool. The evidence leads our heroes into a tangled web of sex, satanism and smashing up the British Museum.

It’s a nice collected edition, the art is reproduced crisply and whilst it’s at time quite simple with very clean lines, there are some nice touches with the use of detail in the background of scenes. My eyes were particularly drawn to the occupants of a pub in which Critchley and Harker are having a discussion, with no use of dialogue Danks is able to tell short tales of these other couples which are oddly compelling. The grey tones are used sparingly throughout, some panels being just black and white while others (particularly buildings, which are obviously photo referenced but add a great sense of realism) are rendered and shaded with considerable detail. This did have a tendency to make the characters look like cut-outs placed over the background scene at times.

I’m not familiar with Gibson’s other work, but there are elements of the script which feel clunky. Characters refer to one another by name constantly in a way which feels unrealistic and there’s one section where Harker keeps apologising for talking to a character who isn’t there in order to allow for some exposition. Differentiation between such a large cast of characters is also problematic and there was a time or two where I felt a little lost, but things pull back together well for the finale.

Overall it’s a well packaged book which skirts the edge of reality and fantasy, not letting on which side it will fall until the plot takes you there. Harker and Critchley are a fun duo to read but I couldn’t tell if the way in which they act out their stereotypical roles was ironic. I note that there are full annotations of the issues on the creators’ blog, which I’ll be reading shortly after I finish this review to see if they cast a light on my question.

Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Dave W

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