Review: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #1

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Review: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #1

Story by: Chris Ryall

Art by: Tony Akins

Colours by: Leonard O’Grady

Letters by: Robbie Robbins

Published by: IDW Publishing

Douglas Adams’, well renowned for the seminal Hitchhiker’s Guide series of novels, also put together a couple of novels for his character Dirk Gently – and his Holistic Detective Agency.  While the Hitchhiker’s Guide has done many rounds in different media, poor Dirk has been somewhat overlooked and neglected.  However, that was then and now it is apparently time for the lesser light of Douglas Adams’ creative arsenal to emerge from the shadows of the much better known Guide – it’s time for Dirk Gently to stake a claim for some attention in the sequential style of IDW.

The Dirk Gently Holistic Detective Agency isn’t your average private eye; Dirk eschews such basic tenets of detective work as evidence collection or observation, rather following causality and the interconnectedness of everything.  This isn’t the most sane of approaches, but for the purposes of the story it is an essential point to make early on.  If you do not buy into this from the start then the book will quickly lose your attention, the manner in which Dirk works will irritate and aggravate the reader.

The character of Dirk is set almost instantly (as soon as he appears, after a mild preamble amid ancient Egypt), there is an almost absent minded Doctor Who feel, and this persists throughout the book.  Like Dirk is aware of what is really happening yet it is beyond our feeble minds to fathom.

The narrative flow of the book is a little distracting, while the plot is a basic chronology, the various characters feel rushed.  Indeed, Dirk himself feels like a work in progress and not a whole character.  Admittedly, it is early in the story and Chris Ryall will undoubtedly build upon this first outing.  However, given the stature of a Douglas Adams’ story, there should have been more polish to proceedings from page 1 onwards.

In terms of the art for #1 there isn’t a wow factor.  There’s a slightly cartoon vibe to proceedings and the vomit bright colours jar the senses somewhat.  The art is functional, manages to cover the bases and illustrate the story.  Effective without being spectacular.

As the plot plays out in the first issue, we have two distinct threads that emerge, the primary story involving Dirk and the secondary story which is linked to the opening sequence in ancient Egypt.  The individual threads are linked, which is part of how this 5-parter will develop, along with these causal links.  Not the most explosive or earth shattering entry into comics for Dirk – an opportunity wasted or merely a modest start – time will tell (so too will the following 4 issues)