Review – Dune: House Harkonnen #4 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
Artist: Michael Shelfer
Colours: Patricio Delpeche
Release Date: 26th April 2023

Despite somewhat disconcertingly setting this latest issue some eighteen months after the events depicted in the previous instalment, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s narrative for issue four of Dune: House Harkonnen still provides its readers with a thoroughly engrossing sequence of jostling sub-plots. In fact, considering the sheer number of characters the co-authors ambitiously cram into this twenty-two-page publication, its storyline is still incredibly enthralling, especially once Baron Vladimir Harkonnen manages to infiltrate House Atreides with “an operative who fits the particulars exactly” and cleverly starts pitting Lady Kailea against her dearest Duke Leto.

This traitor’s villainous influence genuinely should turn many of this comic’s audience against the exiled member of the Great House Vernius in an astonishingly short space of time. In fact, by the end of the book the refugee’s unreasonably antagonistic attitude towards the father of her infant son seems on the verge of being treasonable. Furthermore, this particular thread allows the storytellers to make another considerable time jump into the future, by showing just how changed the now vindictive concubine has become over the space of two years since her close companion’s arrival at Caladan’s spaceport; “Why are you always angry with me? You’ve changed so much since Victor was born. You’re not the woman I fell in love with…”

Enjoyably however, this hotbed of political intrigue is also repeatedly interrupted by several much more dynamically paced insights into Herbert’s Hugo Award-winning universe as the reader is temporarily transported to the likes of Carthag on Arrakis and Geidi Prime. Such ‘detours’ do a good job in breaking up the dialogue-heavy discussions which are putting such a heavy strain upon Leto’s relationship, and occasionally get so blood-thirsty that it may come as something of a relief to some bibliophiles when the tale’s focus returns to its far less gore-splattered scenes.

Artist Michael Shelfer must also take a well-deserved bow for his contribution to this comic’s success. The illustrator proves particularly good at imbuing a blossoming Kailea with all the glow one might expect from an expectant mother and then later adding a visible hardness to her beauty once her mind is turned against her lover. In addition, the penciling (and colours by Patricio Delpeche) for the layouts set on Lankiveil, where Glossu Rabba brutally butchers a number of fur whales single-handedly, is as darkly dramatic as the majestic beasts’ mutilation is disturbingly memorable.


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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