Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin #6 Review

Jim Butcher and Mark Powers’ original-to-comics Dresden Files series comes to an end this week with issue six. While it’s had its ups and downs, Ghoul Goblin is able to go out on top. Here’s the official description from Dynamite:

Harry Dresden has traveled to rural Boone Mill to smoke out the Nevernever refugees responsible for the murders of two siblings. Unfortunately, the quiet little town has proven to be treacherous, with multiple supernatural predators laying claim to hunting territory and seemingly innocent townsfolk hiding terrible secrets. Dresden has made the cursed Talbots’ salvation his own personal crusade – but a bloodline can’t be cleansed without a blood sacrifice!

Right away, Butcher and Powers deliver the most subtle character work of the entire series, with a touching, yet tantalizingly vague discussion between Harry and Maddie. From there, the bulk of the issue is devoted to the fight to protect Maddie and the kids from the supernatural threats. Some previous weaknesses of the series —such as inadequately explained plot developments and Harry’s constantly being out of mana— are still present here, but the atmosphere that the writers and artist Joseph Cooper craft is so polished that these things no longer stand out or deter from the story. Even if the technical elements of plot aren’t Swiss watch smooth, the emotional impact glosses them over. Those truly touching emotions are even more surprising considering that this story has to fit into existing Dresden Files continuity without impacting what comes later.

At every turn, Joseph Cooper is at the top of his game with this issue. The basic character work of figures and faces brings the action and emotion right out onto the page. The ghoul in particular is consistently terrifying; the elongated arms creating the impression that she’s reaching out of the panel for you. Meanwhile, the goblin’s face is always a bit off-center. In other characters it would be poor drawing, but with him it stands to make him more inhuman. Cooper also gets to design an awesome steampunk assault rifle that we unfortunately never see fired.

Ghoul Goblin #6 takes the story up a notch in its final act, making it one of the best Dresden Files stories I’ve read. Dynamite has yet to announce another Dresden adaptation (Grave Peril would presumably be up next) but assuming they can bring the visuals and pathos of this issue, they really need to get on that.