Review – Dune: House Harkonnen #3 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
Artwork: Michael Shelfer
Colours: Patricio Delpeche
Release Date: 22nd March 2023

Focusing primarily upon Giedi Prime’s bloated Baron and the increasingly debilitated leader’s battle of wills against the Bene Gesserit following his discovery that the ‘witches’ infected him with a degenerative disease, issue three of Dune: House Harkonnen likely pleased the vast majority of its readers. Sure, it’s not entirely clear from Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s script just what the “secretive matriarchal order” hoped to achieve by initially inviting their enemy into the Mother School on Wallach IX and then scaring Vladimir away before the man had even spoken to Harishka. But at least by the end of the ‘game’ it is clear neither side would ever be willing to openly speak out against the other faction to either the Landsraad or Emperor.

Similarly as beguiling as this uneasy stalemate is Duncan Idaho’s training “to be the legendary fighter he’s destined to become” by the Ginaz Swordmasters. Arguably it would have been all too easy for the two writers to have presented the “Killer extraordinary” as an unstoppable trainee who excelled at every hurdle placed in his way by his teachers. However, despite some significant successes, the youth is shown to still learn from his defeats as well, such as when he’s made to don the most impenetrable armour imaginable and still falls before the blades of his fellow apprentices; “The hawk is safer from the attack than the turtle.”

Rounding out this twenty-two page periodical is the desperate uprising on Ix in the underground city of Vernii. Somehow crammed in between this comic book adaption’s central plots, the plight of poor C’tair Pilru makes for a good reminder as to just how terrifyingly deadly Herbert’s future universe actually is, especially when the Sardaukar dispense with an elderly “accountant for the Earl Dominic Vernius” by lashing his upside down corpse to a stone column with barbed wire for all to see.

Also aiding in the storytelling is artist Michael Shelfer, whose attention to minor details, such as unfriendly eyes of the Ginaz Swordsmasters, helps add plenty of additional atmosphere to the publication’s vast array of locations. Perhaps foremost of these touches though lies in the Florida-born illustrator’s pencilling of Baron Harkonnen, who genuinely seems to be disheartened by his worsening physical plight, and Rhombur’s “new Bene Gesserit concubine” who is cleverly shown close to her partner’s side when he makes the bold decision to “do something to liberate my people!”


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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