There’s murder afoot in the English seaside town of Whitby, but Detective Chief Inspector Harker, visiting the town on vacation, doesn’t care.
The real pleasure of Harker for me is the characters. Both Harker and his partner Critchley are unique and interesting characters whose reactions are unpredictable and entertaining. Take Harker’s actions this issue as an example. In Harker #7, the Inspector had stumbled over a murder at his vacation hotel, like a character in a bad ’80s detective TV show. But this issue we see Harker’s reaction to the murder, and it’s not what you might expect. As Harker says, “I’m on leave. I don’t want to end up like one of those TV coppers who stumble across murders wherever they go, and feel compelled to solve them. The whole thing is ridiculous. I hate those bloody shows. Real life isn’t like that.”
Co-creators Gibson and Danks are having fun with their characters, making a satirical point that sets the characters aside from their brethren in other media. Gibson and Danks portray Harker as an intelligent and serious man who also has a multifaceted view of his life. To him, though, this situation is very simple: why should he have to give up a good vacation just because a murder has been committed? It’s a fair question, really, and one about which one has to wonder if other detective characters ask themselves. He’s a police detective, but that’s not the only thing that makes up his life. Why should his working life dominate both his professional and personal lives?
At the same time, Harker cares enough about the events that happened in the town. Neither his partner Critchley nor the coroner, Griffin, are on vacation, so Harker has no compunctions about including them in the investigation. To Critchley and Griffin this decision is rude and ill-considered, but to Harker it seems entirely logical. This decision adds wonderful depth to all of the characters.
Vincent Danks’s artwork is wonderful in its depiction of life in the small British resort town of Whitby. It’s impressive how thoroughly Danks brings the town to life. As the readers watch Harker and Critchley wander through the town, we get a feel for the town’s uniqueness: it’s cute little amusement park area, its charming harbor, its romantic lighthouse. Of course Harker would want to vacation in a town like that, and of course murder would be unlikely in a town like that. Danks thus brings an interesting element to the story, one that could only be done in quite the same way in comics.
I’ve been reviewing this comic since its first issue, and am wonderfully surprised by how the characters keep growing more and more interesting as the series goes on. These multifaceted men are thoroughly interesting.