Wild Card proves to be a very clever title, and again jumps the Harry Dresden continuity a couple of years from the previous graphic novel, this time the setting being between the novels Small Favor and Turn Coat.

Introduced to the graphic novels in Down Town, Molly Carpenter is now in her twenties and developing her skills. Dresden himself acknowledges her greater intuition when it comes to mental and emotional states, and she’s exceptionally aggrieved when the undamaged corpses of two young women roughly her age are found to have been completely sucked dry of personality and memories. It’s a crime that has all the hallmarks of the energy vampires populating the White Court, but these are powerful people, not to be accused lightly. We’ve seen who’s responsible, but don’t know their motives.

Artist Carlos Gomez designs a suitably creepy villain for the Chicago night in the opening pages and follows that up with the phenomenal giant owl seen on the sample art. This is a great bit of plotting on the part of Jim Butcher and Mark Powers, presenting the problem of attempting to stop a giant predatory bird abducting Dresden from an open-topped car driving fast along remote winding roads.

After the comparative coasting of Down Town, it’s pleasing to note Wild Card is the best of the Dresden Files graphic novels. Gomez is on top form for what’s his final outing on the series, the plot exploits the prevailing tensions in the novels well, there’s a great Karrin Murphy sequence, while surprises and switches occur in every chapter. Dresden’s usually pitted against something that’s well beyond his power class, but this time there’s the additional problem of all out war breaking out between two very powerful factions. The final chapter is everything you’re going to want it to be, ending with a classic Captain Kirk style manoeuvre. If there’s a weak spot it’s that after the good scene with Molly early on, it takes a while before she’s involved again, but that’s just being picky. The Dresden Files graphic novels continue with Dog Men.