When Chris Ryall’s version of Dirk Gently unintentionally(?) becomes a tour guide, will he bring his followers to truth, or lead them astray? Or will they end up on an ancient mummy’s menu? And is it good?
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #2 (IDW Publishing)
It’s a truism in public discourse: You don’t need to know what you’re talking about if you say it really loudly. Under the pen of IDW’s Chief Creative Officer, Douglas Adams’ sometimes overlooked “holistic detective” illustrates that unfortunate reality elegantly. While strolling through a zoo for reasons known only to him (and even then, it’s questionable), Dirk’s boisterous recounting of falsehoods that sound good attracts a crowd that follows him and a windblown piece of paper to—shockingly!—just where he needs to go.
At the San Diego Natural History Museum, the luckiest gumshoe this side of Maxwell Smart meets the two time-displaced, Egyptian teenagers from issue #1, who can confirm from firsthand experience that Gently’s history lessons are less than immaculate. But hey, now that they’ve all met, they can party together! Too bad Dirk forgets the Tostitos and Neferhotep, snacking choices thus limited, is forced to double dip in someone’s soul.
Is It Good?
There’s a lot to keep track of from #1, so Ryall does the reader a solid by including a recap page. A great idea, but with so many moving parts, it’s sometimes difficult for such a thing to not spoil a couple plot points, or at least overemphasize the importance of things which we should have already realized ourselves. A new (to me) character is even introduced here, one whose inclusion later in the issue could have been a fun, lingering mystery if left to air out on its own.
In the actual story Crowther, the homeless man with the golden phone, similarly hits us over the head with how he got the thing and what it’s doing to him. It’s fine comics form to reiterate major details from issue to issue, but it’s a little too blunt force, without much nuance, in this case.
On the other hand, we’re left wondering what our serial-killing couple and Mr. Bird are up to, as they have next to no presence in #2. Ryall instead devotes a long section to the ragged museum employs who let the reanimated mummies give them the slip. Unless they’ll also be recurring characters, I’m not sure I understand that decision.
The issue reads kind of quickly, which is a bit of a departure, but it’s partly for a good reason. Artist Tony Akins was just sort of there in #1, but here he draws a huge, neat overhead shot of the party that progresses in time as your eye is led across the page. It’s an effective device that’s a good break from just panels of people’s faces.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #2 is as much of a conundrum as the man himself. It loses a lot of the fun interplay and character work from the first issue, but that’s somewhat offset by improved artistic choices and the clearer focus on how Dirk operates. It’s almost as if these first two issues were produced by separate creative teams, which is probably not what they were going for. The ride’s still enjoyable, though, just for different reasons.