Review – Dune: House Harkonnen #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writers: Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Artist: Michael Shelfer
Colours: Patricio Delpeche
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 18th January 2023

For those readers unacquainted with Frank Herbert’s Dune Universe and hoping to use issue one of this series as an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the late Science Fiction Hall of Famer’s franchise, this brand new twelve-part comic book series is probably not the best of starting points. Indeed, considering that the twenty-two-page periodical bewilderingly throws its audience to almost every corner of the Padishah Emperor’s interstellar empire, it is difficult to imagine even fans who are already well versed in the fictional universe’s rich mythology following so huge a web of colourful characters, political manoeuvrings, Machiavellian machinations and geological explorations.

To begin with, whilst Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s narrative undeniably does contain plenty to do with Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, interest in the titular Great House is soon swallowed up by all the numerous insights into other worlds, such as the Imperial Planetologist’s investigation into the cataclysmic storms of Arrakis and a burgeoning rebellion brewing on the Tleilaxu-conquered planet of Ix. Coupled with artist Michael Shelfer prodigiously pencilling some serious shenanigans occurring during a supposedly peaceful party at Count Hasimir Fenring’s Arakeen residency, as well as a somewhat sedentary sojourn to the Mother School complex of the Bene Gesserit to witness Jessica practicing her Prana Bindu training, and it’s hard to imagine many readers managing to keep their eyes fixed upon quite so many spinning plates.

Perhaps this novel adaption’s biggest disappointment, however, lies in the comic’s sudden and rather undramatic conclusion on the planet of Caladan. Admittedly, the authors try their very best to add an element of impending doom to poor Duncan Idaho’s final words as the youth receives a valuable blade from Duke Leto Atriedes prior to departing to become “a worthy trainee for the famed Swordmaster school.” But it comes so out of the blue and with so little context that it sadly smacks of the writers simply crowbarring the scene into this opening instalment just so it doesn’t end on a whimper; “I will study hard on Ginaz, my Lord. I will become the best Swordmaster ever… For all our sakes.”


The writer of this piece was: Simon Moore
Simon Tweets from @Blaxkleric ‏
You can read more of his reviews at The Brown Bag

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