Harvest graphic novel review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Image Comics/Shadowline - 978-1-60706-732-0
  • Release date: 2013
  • UPC: 9781607067320
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

“My life is a major league wreck and the only thing propping it up is a rather serious drink problem and semi-professional drug habit”. That’s a rare moment of self-insight from Ben Dane, no longer a registered surgeon after his indulgences were responsible for a patient’s death. However, that’s exactly the circumstances that make Ben useful to Jason Craven, who’s in a need of a new surgeon for his organ harvesting business. No ethics necessary.

In the spirit of wanting readers to keep the contents of their stomach in their stomach, it’s only fair to provide a warning that Harvest supplies multiple graphic images of surgery and the horrific injuries requiring it. It’s a warning that does a disservice to Colin Lorimer’s very accomplished naturalistic art, but it’s a warning some might be grateful for as Lorimer does like to splash the red ink about. He’s also responsible for some great scenes of Chicago in the slashing rain, not just the landmarks, but the grimy stockyard areas, and for the continual detail packed into every page. He’s not one to let a scene leave his hands until it bleeds right off the edge of the page, but is stronger with the surroundings than with people, which is clearer when there’s nothing to distract during a conversation scene.

A.J. Lieberman could have run with a dark crime story based on the organ harvesting alone, but elevates matters with some diverting touches. We’re shown early how it is that Ben’s able to call in a favour from someone very well connected, and the commentary intrusions of Ben’s conscience in the form of himself as a happy young kid dressing up provide an eccentric touch. However, the truly original aspect is Ben’s course of action when he decides he’s going to put things right. Then again, protection or not, he’s really in over his head.

Lieberman overplays his hand for the final few pages, perhaps clumsily trying to set up a sequel, or perhaps not entirely sure how to supply closure. It’s mildly disappointing, but not disappointing enough to wipe out the thrill ride supplied over the remainder of Harvest.

It’s also worth noting the thoughtful presentation of Lorimer’s five covers to the original comics. These were designed as one large illustration that could be separated into five portions, and they’re supplied here as a foldout.