Sep 22, 2013

Book Review: Harker: The Book of Solomon

If there is one thing that I really enjoy, it is a good crime story. Having grown up on countless versions of Law & Order, CSI and other crime dramas. I would say that I am at times a savvy customer for a well written whodunit. British detective shows also have a long history of weaving a good yarn, and often without having to using the same Violence/Gun laden crutch of their American counterparts.

When Roger Gibson’s Harker came across my desk, my first thought was “How well would this genre translate to comics?” Of course crime comics are not a new thing, with Simon and Kirby giving us countless volumes of capers and master criminals in the past. These crime comics have always come with a thick layer of pulp and often cartonishness, so I was very skeptical to see how this would defy those genre traditions.

The first thing that struck me about this graphic novel was the visuals. In a story like this, London is really one of the main characters. The architectural details are painstakingly recreated in every panel of Vince Danks’ art work. The overall visual style is decidedly noir, which works perfectly for a story that mixes murder with occult goings on.

The story took a number of predictable twists and turns but had some interesting set pieces and while detective stories are mandated to resolve themselves in a prescribed fashion, I did not feel that I was reading something that was unoriginal. The relationship between the main characters Harker and Critchley had a fun chemistry to it. These two men are very skilled yet with very different personalities and at no time do they fall into the trap of the wise mentor and the bumbling side kick.

One aspect that I had a little problem with was the dialogue. I felt that while well written, it had an awkward flavour to it. It felt as if it was written for an American audience but at the same time had a lot of overused British –isms like “Guv” and “Luv”. This had me waiting to hear more regional slang that never really materialized in the dialogue.

In the end, the size of the book is perfect for what you would call a single “episode” or story and the creators do an exceptional job of painting a world that many more stories could be told in. So if you are looking for a good British Crime drama in the form of a well-executed graphic novel, then Harker: The Book of Solomon is for you.