The late Frank Herbert’s series of seminal science fictional novels have been adapted into a David Lynch film, a Syfy network miniseries, and a popular real-time strategy game for the PC. The narrative had even languished in development hell as an ultimately unproduced Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, Holy Mountain) arthouse pet project. While a hotly anticipated and arguably more faithful film adaptation of the first book starring Timothée Chalamet hits theaters and HBO Max this fall, fans may now satiate their spice fix and return to the wondrous world of Arrakis (better known as Dune) on the comic book page.
Courtesy of Brian Herbert (son of original author, Frank Herbert) and Kevin J. Anderson (Star Wars: Darksaber, The Jedi Academy trilogy) comes the latest BOOM! Studios one-shot, Dune: Blood of the Sardaukar.
Set during the latter reign of Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV in the year 10,191 A.G., this Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-esque sidequel occurs just on the outskirts of events that took place within the first Dune novel (namely the hostile Harkonnen coup in the Arrakeen capital during House Atreides’ occupation of Arrakis). We follow Colonel Bashar Jopati Kolona (formally a bit player in The Duke of Caladan), a high ranking enforcer within the Emperor’s feared Sardaukar army as well as the one true heir to the fallen House Kolona. Jopati Kolona dons Harkonnen armor as part of Emperor Shaddam’s ruse to undermine House Atreides and place responsibility solely on the shoulders of the vile Harkonnen horde. Kolona recalls his childhood wherein his noble family fell victim to a similar Imperial ploy for galactic control; a ploy that led to the beheading of Kolona’s father, the loss of his brothers and the life of jingoist servitude among the Sardaukar.
Kolona knows that the good Duke Leto Atreides faces certain death. He also knows it’s his responsibility as a Sardaukar warrior to see to the Duke’s demise; however, can Kolona spare the benevolent Atreides ruler torture at the treacherous hands of the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen? Can the life of Atreides swordmaster Duncan Idaho be spared (at least temporarily)? Must House Atreides meet the same end as the doomed House Kolona?
In the decades following the death of his father, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have co-authored over a dozen novels within the Dune-verse, and while their work within the IP typically tends to lean more pedestrian than the that of the ecology heavy Frank Herbert, such a stripped-down approach is perhaps precisely what’s called for regarding a comic book take on the material. Illustrator Adam Gorham (New Mutants, Punk Mambo) wonderfully renders the characters fans know and love (Leto Atreides, Duncan Idaho) in ways that neither harken back to the ‘84 Lynch adaptation nor the forthcoming Denis Villeneuve feature film.
Dune: Blood of the Sardaukar offers an interesting glimpse into the background inner workings of a world sci-fi fans never tire of.
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