July 3, 2013

Harvest (2013)

I've written many times in my Pull List column about the extraordinary quality of Image's comic books in recent years. In many ways they're the perfect publisher: they do a lot of the production legwork for creative teams who remain in total control of their own product. While I do still love my corporate-owned superhero titles, in terms of storytelling quality Image very often can't be beaten.

Harvest is a case in point. It's a five-issue crime miniseries that follows a disgraced, drug-addicted surgeon as he enters the shadowy world of human organ trafficking before starting an attempt to rise out on the other side and make things right. It's a mean, gritty work of pulp fiction featuring a tight script by A.J. Lieberman and stark, character-filled artwork by Colin Lorimer.

Dr Benjamin Dane is a drug-addicted surgeon who, after losing a patient on the operating table, finds himself fired from his post and barred from medical practice. This makes him the perfect candidate to work for a group of mysterious contractors who source human organs for sick billionaires and then perform the transplants - more often than not involving unwilling donors.

It's apparent from the outset that Dane is severely out of his depth, and when his conscience gets the better of him he finds himself in increasingly dangerous piles of trouble. It feels like the perfect pitch for a feature film, but thankfully this does still feel like an excellent comic book rather than a collection of storyboards - which is what a lot of miniseries seem to feel like these days.

I like that crime comics have made such a subtle comeback. They've crept up in the background, via Image and Vertigo mainly, until now you look around and there are excellent crime books everywhere. The gold standard these days remains Brubaker and Phillips' works like Criminal and Fatale, but Harvest is pretty much just as good. It's available right now in a nice oversized hardcover collection, boasting beautiful design and presentation and a special foldout page of the interlinked covers to the five issues.

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