Harker #1 Review
This was a surprise. Definitely not one for the kiddies, Harker is a new series from Ariel Press which follows two unlikely English cops as they delve into a gruesome murder on the steps of a church. Take CSI, peel away all the Hollywood veneer, and throw in a dash of that loveable dry British wit and you’ll come up with this oddly charming tale.
Written by Roger Gibson with art by Vince Danks, Harker is a curiously attractive package. Sure, there’s profanity and spilling gizzards, but it does maintain a sense of quiet anarchy without coming across as pretentious. It’s a clever balance really.
It opens with a brutal stabbing, followed by the discovery of the corpse the next morning. Amidst the disgusted cops and forensics team, steps Harker and Critchley discussing cheese and pickles. They are very much at odds with their fellow police officers, with their casual banter. However, they seem to know a lot and are determined to unearth answers. A quick visit to the autopsy later, where they put the female coroner off balance, and they have enough clues to act on. This leads them to the British Museum, where their unusual social stylings put another female professional out of whack. However, this time Critchley manages to impress the librarian enough to wrangle a date out of her. The pair finally come to the conclusion that they are dealing with a satanic cult. And this new series is off and running with an impressive first salvo.
Since Diamond, the world’s foremost comics distributor, has recently raised their minimum profit for listing books, many small time publishers will struggle to get attention. This is why it’s important to take note of publishers like Ariel Press, and support them. Not wholeheartedly however. Not every independent comics company is producing great material. Ariel appears to be though. Harker fulfills the goal of the creative pair behind it, by being TV on paper. It’s structured well with a great sense of pace and distinguishable characters.
Plus this fanboy noticed the From Hell reference (Alan Moore’s Jack the Ripper epic graphic novel) and also the fact that Critchley looks like fan-fave writer Grant Morrison. Seeing as how the detective duo are slightly based on their creators, that’s a happy coincidence though.
The art has to be mentioned too. Danks does a greta job with the black and white interiors. Fans of Dave Sim’s Glamourpuss MUST get this. With it’s beautifully simple renderings the art just pops. Every charcter looks like an actual person, rather than a generic humanoid, and when Danks puts his skills to the grand English architecture, with fine detail, and wise use of greys, the environment looks just as real as anything Alex Ross does.
Within this new series (of 6 in the first volume) there’s room for further character development, rather than simply being a double act. And more than a novelty. Gibson and Danks show they have what it takes to build upon this intriguing premise though. Hopefully this series will be a consistent breath of fresh air, and carve a niche for itself as an accessible title for readers with a spandex rash, or newbies just looking for a mature, well-crafted tale.
Harker #1 is available for order now, from this month’s Previews, for a March release. Put your order in now at your local comics shop.