The hero is a drug-abusing former surgeon who’s given up on life. The villain helps people get the organs they need to live. In what world does this make sense?
Written by A.J. Lieberman
Illustrated by Colin Lorimer
Human Traffickers. Rogue medical teams. Yakuza run organ mills and a six year-old drug fiend. Welcome to Dr. Benjamin Dane’s nightmare. His only way out? Bring down the man who set him up by reclaiming organs alredy placed in some very powerful people. If Dexter, ER, and 100 Bulletshad a three-way and that mind blowing tryst somehow resulted in a kid, that kid would be “Harvest”. Medical Grade Revenge.
Whoever wrote this solicitation must’ve just flipped through the book before writing it. Human trafficking? Nope. Yakuza organ mills? Nope. Six year-old druggie? Nope. If you just skim some pages you might think all those things are in there, but’s about as accurate a description as that trailer for Mary Poppins as a horror film. It’s a shame, really, because this is a really great premise which would sell itself if properly presented.
Dane is a great surgeon who has some bad personal habits. One day the two crash, and a patient dies on a table as he collapses in front of her two kids. He loses his job, medical license, and any money he may have had. Two months later, he’s given a new job offer: surgery on the black market. After a very short career, he has an attack of conscience in the form a hallucination of his dead patient’s son. Utilizing his unlikely connection to a yakuza boss, Dane begins to wage a war on his new employers in an effort to shut down the operation.
Lieberman’s real strength in this narrative is his ability to draw out tension and suspense. Dane’s lack of long-term thinking and half-considered decisions are spot on for addicts, leading to an ever-present sense of impending trouble. The story moves at a fast pace even in its quiter moments, and it takes enough twists to keep you on your toes until the last page. If there’s any mis-steps, it’s a last minute reveal about the FBI agent who’s been on Dane’s tail. It doesn’t add or explain much, and is more of a head scratching moment than an “ah-ha!” moment. The chapter breaks are noticable, but as a whole this collection reads just fine. The time jumps are appropriate, and there’s never any exposition recapping what you read two or three pages ago.
If Lieberman’s plotting succeeded through its tension and suspense, it was Lorimer’s layouts and palet which helped him pull it off. A big hurdle for any comic is the problem of peripheal vision. It’s very easy for a reader to spoil a suprise by accidentally noticing, say, the man talking in the first panel gets shot in the fourth panel before actually reading any of the panels. The easiest way to prevent this is to put the surprise after a page turn, but even that isn’t foolproof. Depending where ads are placed or how a trade is collected, sometimes such a tactic just makes things worse.
Any aspiring artist who wants to disguise their twists should study “Harvest.” By putting as much life into a panel of Dane recovering from a blackout as he does in a chase across rooftops, Lorimer prevents the action in any one panel from drawing your eye before you’re supposed to see it. He also utilizes floating panels and innovative layouts to direct your attention exactly where he wants it. Aiding all of this is his very moody choice of colors. The background colors bring a lot of life to his work, and by using the same colors for his cast in any given panel, he makes the setting feel as much a character as any person.
The trade also comes with some entertaining extras. First is a note from Lieberman about how the book was pitched and grew. Then come seven pages of Lorimer talking about his process, the creation of certain pages and characters, and the five interlocking covers. Oddly, both Lorimer and the back cover mention a giant foldout of all the covers put together, but (unless I got a bad copy or am just blind) there isn’t any such foldout in the book. The hardcover costs just a couple dollars more than the single issues, but the extra material is interesting enough to warrant the cost.Continued below
Overall, the weakest part of “Harvest” is the ending. It’s very open ended with hints toward a sequel, but so far there have been no hints of when or if one might happen. While there would definately be interest in such a project, it’s always nice to get a full story when you plunk down twenty bucks for a book.
Final Verdict: 6.5 – Definately worth one read, but maybe not two.