Review – Dune: Blood of the Sardaukar #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer(s): Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
Artwork: Adam Gorham
Colours: Patricio Delpeche
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 28th July 2021

My introduction to the Dune Universe was via the old Amiga game. From there I managed to pick up the old ’84 movie on VHS before picking up and falling in love with the novel. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say it’s one of my favourites and one of the few I have read more than a couple of times. I suppose then it is also fair to say that I am probably a little bit biased going into this, and excited for the chance to see more of the expanded worlds.

The Sardaukar are bad guys. They were black, had unswerving loyalty to the Emperor, and fought with a ruthless efficiency unmatched by any household forces of the Landsraad. At least that’s what I thought in the folly of youth when things could be simple black and white. Apart from the brutal training and background that these shock troops were conditioned by, we essentially only see them through the eyes of others. This new story from the team over at BOOM! Studios gives us the opportunity to change that.

Whereas the recent run dealt with the lead up to the events of the first novel and the eagerly anticipated new movie, this opens during the height of the action on Arrakis as the forces of House Harkonnen, secretly aided and bolstered by the Sardaukar, lay waste to the unsuspecting Atreides in Arrakeen.

Throughout, the artwork and design are exactly what I’ve come to expect from the recent Dune output. Great choices of when to use detail and the ability to draw the eye. The combination of colouring means that this book is chock full of gorgeous panels from cityscapes to close quarter shield fights. There’s also a great balance in the way violence is portrayed. For a book focusing on the Sardaukar, we would expect plenty of bloody, up close fighting, and harsh environs. Whilst there is blood it never falls into the ‘gory’ category whilst also steering clear of simply looking cartoony; clearly not an all-ages comic but it shouldn’t ruffle too many feathers either.

For me, Blood of the Sardaukar brings something new and fresh to the Dune canon. Having not had prior knowledge of this story, it doesn’t have the same problems that can become apparent in adaptations. By focusing on a single fighter, Colonel Bashar Jopati Kolona, we are, quite cleverly, given another viewpoint of these fanatical soldiers. The concepts of loyalty and honour are clearly going to be challenged here and although we know how the grander story plays out, exploring the periphery has many merits.

If I were to mention any gripes they’d probably be centred on how, when seeing more of the young Duke Leto, the Atreides come off even more idealistic. Where certain preconceptions are challenged, others are annoyingly amplified. However, as if we had successfully converted the Water of Life to gain prescience, we know that good intentions and a code of honour will not alone be enough to save you from Dune.

Rating: 4/5


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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