A second volume of the fantastic supernatural crime procedural Harker: The Book of Solomon is now funding on Kickstarter. We look back at the first volume and see whether our sleuthing skills were up to scratch with the sinister finale!
Roger Gibson and Vincent Danks’ crime procedural has a really fantastic old school feel to it, reminding us of classic detective dramas from the 70s and 80s like Morse or Rebus (and even more recent series like JK Rowling/Robert Galbreath’s Strike). When a disembowelled corpse is found on the steps of a church, DCI Harker and his assistant DS Critchley look into the occult background, and the connection to the mysterious Book of Solomon. But is the book the reason for the murder or is there something less sinister afoot. Our two detectives must bicker it out to see who is right!
It’s a really fun and enjoyable read, that thrives on the dynamic between the two coppers – the cynic and the idealist, the technophobe and young upstart, the old and new school. Like all great detective shows this is the core to the story, and what makes the book tick – the mystery itself is almost secondary. While the satanic shenanigans create a fun distraction and allows for a satisfying case for our coppers to investigate, ultimately it is just there are just there as something for Critchley and Harker to argue about and it works really well.
Visually it looks great, with Danks’ fine and crisp style reinforcing that vintage TV feel. He has an almost photo reallistic style at times, especially on the faces, and when mixed with a photo montage background style it all looks really impressive and realistic. He even goes so far as to use a few obvious life models in places (similar to Grayham Puttock in Red Rocket Comet), however it’s done subtly enough to not really make it into an issue.
While Harker has had various incarnations over the years (previously released as a small press series in the early 00s), this new version feels like a worthy update for a new audience and is well worth checking out. It has been finessed with a simple new colour scheme to bring it up-to-date and if we were being picky, we would say it is almost a bit too subtle for our liking – it feels a bit washed out in places and doesn’t really add that much to the overall package. But fortunately it also doesn’t take anything away either.
Overall Harker: The Book of Solomon is a really smart and engaging read that really makes the most of its cop show roots. It manages to take the best elements of those and puts them on the page, while telling a really fun story along the way. The characterisation is layered and really well thought out and the dynamics between the two leads play out brilliantly. It’s not damning with faint praise to say that we could see this series on a Sunday night on ITV, it just hits those genre notes perfectly. While the added darker elements give it a USP. it’s never at the expense of the character and compliments it all briliiantly.
With more volumes hopefully in the works, this has the potential to be a fantastic new franchise for Time Bomb Comics to go alongside the excellent Brawler and Flintlock, and so we hope this is the start of many more investigations for our new favourite supernatural sleuths.