Review: Harvest #5

The last issue of Lieberman and Lorimer’s icy miniseries about the illicit organ trade is full of surprises — but they’re not all the good kind of surprises. A mixed bag of an issue, this isn’t the best way to cap things off, but the virtues that have made “Harvest” such a great read so far are definitely still present.

Written by A.J. Lieberman
Illustrated by Colin Lorimer

The bad news? Everything is going wrong for ex-Dr. Benjamin Dane. His patient has been kidnapped. The FBI is closing in on him and he’s bleeding out in a motel bathroom. The only thing that can save him now is vast amounts of luck, his Yakuza bodyguard and the six-year-old kid on his shoulder.

Coming to the last page of this issue, I found myself having to double-check whether this is, in fact, just a five-issue series. This is one of those endings that’s mostly significant in a symbolic sort of way, and doesn’t wrap everything up nicely for you in terms of plot threads. It does feel somewhat jarring, coming at the end of a series that has stressed detail and realism and grittiness, so if we’re going to get one complaint out of the way at the outset of this review, that would be it.

To be frank, it’s surprising that things don’t come to a stickier end, given how much of himself Dane has (literally) put into this shady business — but then, this issue simply doesn’t bring us to the “end” of things, stopping well before that point and giving Dane the luxury of a moment of reflection. It’s a bold move, in a way — the best ending is the one we imagine for ourselves, and all that — but it simply doesn’t fit with the spirit of the rest of the series, which has been all about the schadenfreude that accompanies a semi-unsympathetic character’s descent into corruption. The new character of sorts that gets added to the mix at this late moment, meanwhile, is unclear in terms of her significance. This is one of those moments we’re left to puzzle through for ourselves, without any real hints to work with as to how we should be reading things, and it’s more than a little frustrating.

The page-by-page quality of this book is as high as ever, though, and the plot points that come up on the way to this ending are as turny and twisty as you could wish for. Dane accomplishes a neat bluff in this issue — something relying on a very clever action that he effected last issue — and there’s even a neat little reveal as to Dane’s identity, although it feels like there’s more backstory to this fact that what gets relayed to us. Meanwhile, Lorimer’s art keeps the gritty-but-precise look consistent right up until the last page, as usual exhibiting a great feel for colour and keeping the overall look dark but also interesting and variable. And as Lieberman brings Dane’s bodyguard, Mariko, to the emotional forefront of this issue, Lorimer again nails this moment, getting across a human side to this character that had sort of lurked in the background so far. Finally, the subtle facial expressions very nearly carry the inconclusive ending, contributing a sense of emotional closure.

Overall this has been an unusually good series, pulling together a lot of detail and managing a nice — and terrifying — sense of realism. It’s definitely not pleasant to think that one of the most profitable businesses in the world involves cutting organs out of desperate people and putting them into rich ones, but insofar as an thriller centering on this subject can be wonderful, this has been a wonderful thriller. It’s also likely to make for a riveting one-sitting read in trade paperback, so for those of you who have been waiting, pre-order it already! Other than the ending — which errs too far on the abstract side of things, at the same time as baiting us for a sequel, which doesn’t seem to be in the cards at the moment — this has been a satisfyingly scary read.

Final Verdict: Solid 8.0 for the series, but 7.0 for this issue.

About The AuthorMichelle WhiteMichelle White is a writer, zinester, and aspiring Montrealer.

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