"Deadly Harvest" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Arcana Studio
Written by Erik Hendrix and Michael David Nelson
Illustrated by Yannis Roumboulias
2012, 109 Pages
Graphic Novel released on December 12th, 2012
Remember how awesome Armageddon was? I do. Sending Bruce Willis into space to blow up a huge asteroid and save the planet was badass for the '90s, but what are the future possibilities for space mining? Deadly Harvest looks into a scenario where a group of miners risk their lives in the dark reaches of space to find and gather a rare mineral called Kliptinium. Times are tough and fights break out over the best jobs. Plus, there are space pirates about. It's bad enough that Kliptinium can explode if not properly handled, but you also have to worry that you might get shot by a thief.
The book picks up with the crew of the Harvest Moon, an old smuggling vessel converted into a mining craft. Think Serenity from Firefly but shaped more like the Battlestar Galactica. After losing a member of the team in a mining operation, they return to the Cosmopolitan, a space station and cargo hub where Captain Cyrus Layne is hauled in for bogus charges of piracy. Layne literally gambles his way out of it and into one of the biggest scores of his career. Now all he has to do is survive long enough to bring it in.
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Deadly Harvest sets the groundwork for what looks to be a great sci-fi epic. The bulk of this 100-page graphic novel is spent establishing the characters and the technology that they use. We learn about the ships and how they can travel through a series of space highways called the Threads. We find out about Layne's past and his lost love, Pamela Ogden. We learn why Kliptinium is so important. All of these things are great to know but don't play that much into the overall story. It's like this is the first 20-30 minutes of a sci-fi movie that abruptly ends right when the true villain is revealed.
The book finishes just when things are getting really interesting. Co-author Erik Hendrix has said that they're planning a large second book, but there's no indication of this in Deadly Harvest. In fact, the final page of the story literally says "End." I don't want to get too much into the detail of what happens at the end of the comic for obvious reasons, but I was hoping for a bit more cohesion. Hopefully, if and when the second book is released, it will pick up on the loose plot threads and tie them up in a pretty bow.
Yannis Roumboulias illustrated Deadly Harvest. While I'm unfamiliar with his work, I'm dying to see more. He has a great, clean style. Everything is very clear. This is the kind of book that could get lost in a lot of dark colors with space as a background, but colorist Doug Spencer kept everything in check. My only qualm with the art is that it was sometimes difficult to tell the characters apart when they were in their spacesuits. While they are all wearing different colors, it's tough to figure out who is who when their helmets are blocked or their visors are opaque.
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As mentioned above, Deadly Harvest is really just the beginning of an overall story. Unfortunately, the graphic novel stops right when things are getting really interesting. This is like the prequel story filled with all the facts and background information. I'm anxious to get to the meat of the story and follow the continuing adventures of Layne and the Harvest Moon. By the looks of the end of this book, they're only just getting started.