Review – Dune: House Harkonnen #2 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writers: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
Illustrator: Michael Shelfer
Colorist: Patricio Delpeche
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 22nd February 2023

Despite whisking its audience on a truly head-spinning journey from Kaitain’s Imperial Capital down to the underground city of Vernaii on the planet Ix and beyond, there’s still some opportunity to enjoy Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s storyline for issue two of Dune: House Harkonnen whenever the collaborative partnership’s plot lingers just long enough at a single location. In fact, one of this publication’s most pulse-pounding moments comes when the tale momentarily focuses upon the former home of House Vernius and depicts a Sardaukar patrol flushing out “a nest of traitors!”

Arguably this comic’s biggest draw though comes with Vladimir Harkonnen’s discovery that his increasing weight gain and physical lethargy stems from him being poisoned by the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. The tense atmosphere during the Baron’s examination by a Suk Doctor of the Inner Circle can be cut with a knife, and the planetary governor’s angry reaction to learning the Bene Gesserit has infected him with “an incurable degenerative disease” definitely does not bode well for the future Imperial Truthsayer.

However, not every scene is quite so enthrallingly penned, with this book’s dramatic cliff-hanger set on the icy waters of Lankiveil proving both highly unlikely and incredibly contrived. Admittedly, this sequence’s opening shot of Abulurd Harkonnen’s sea-faring vessel chasing down a pod of fur whales during a snowstorm is exhilaratingly penned. But then the authors have the Baron’s out of favour half-brother spot the one fake iceberg in an ocean teeming with real ones simply so he can subsequently uncover an illegal secret sash of melange, which despite its covert nature is helpfully stored within large containers adorned with his Great House’s instantly recognisable griffin motiff.

Persevering through all this political intrigue and interplanetary space-hopping is the proficient artwork of Michael Shelfer, which does a good job of packing each and every panel with as much dynamic energy as the illustrator can muster. Of particular note is the artist’s ability to imbue this comic’s extensive cast with plenty of emotional facial expressions, such as Vladimir’s aforementioned furious response to his debilitating fate, as well as the Padishah Emperor’s utter exasperation at the Tleilaxu’s unsuccessful research into a synthetic spice.


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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