Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writers: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
Illustrations: Dev Pramanik
Colours: Alex Guimaraes
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 24th March 2021
There’s an almost palpable sense of urgency to simply getting the story told with issue seven of this series, which rather seems to be at odds with some of the complicated and emotionally important issues the comic’s script covers. In fact, the sheer contrast between this twenty-two page periodical’s various plots, ranging from a pair of adolescent boys immaturely laughing at the destruction of their sailing craft on Caladan, through to the horrific sexual assault of Gaius Helen Mohiam, arguably makes this latest instalment feel ‘thrown together’, rather than a well-paced, self-contained chapter in its own right.
Much of this haste is arguably on show during the comic’s opening quarter, when its readers are subjected to little more than a summary of events involving Pardot Kynes’ successful acceptance into the Fremen on Arrakis. The young planetologist is not only suddenly married to the sister of Stilgar without any exploration as to how the bearded scientist managed to find true love amongst the sand banks, but is also inexplicably now supported by the senior tribesman who had previously arranged for him to be assassinated; “As I promised Umma Kynes, I… I will relinquish my role as Naib. You have been shown to be our prophet.” Just what the Padishah Empire’s liaison agent has actually done so as to accomplish such strong feelings remains utterly unclear, as is the motivation behind why his new-found allies are so willing to install “my devices in the most remote parts of the desert.”
Leading straight on from this whirlwind tour of Fremen life is the disconcertingly detailed depiction of Mohiam’s aforementioned rape by Vladimir Harkonnen on Giedi Prime. This shocking scene is so traumatising that the comic’s publishers actually have a warning as to its explicitness stamped inside the book’s cover, and even go so far as to highlight the National Sexual Assault Hotline for those readers who want “more information on how to prevent and report acts of sexual assault”. Such a responsible attitude to an utterly reprehensible crime by BOOM! Studios is extremely laudable, but also begs the question as to why illustrator Dev Pramanik couldn’t have been tasked to pencil more of Kynes’ adventures on Arrakis rather than providing so detailed a depiction of the Baron’s attack that the artist even goes so far as to actually sketch the release of the “virulent pathogens” latently stored within the Bene Gesserit’s polynucleotide chain during the couple’s disagreeable intercourse.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]