Overview

Sherlock Holmes #1

Review

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Sherlock Holmes #1

Credits

  • Words: Leah Moore and John Reppion
  • Art: Aaron Campbell
  • Colors: Tony Avina
  • Story Title: The Trial of Sherlock Holmes - Part One: A Smoking Gun
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: May 1, 2009

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson return in an all-new adventure!  This time the mystery hits close to home and embroils Holmes himself!

Like many literary greats, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal characters are no strangers to the comic book world.  There have been re-tellings of Doyle’s many stories and novels as well as all-new adventures from various publishing companies.  There have also been thinly veiled echoes like the detective hero of Crossgen Comics’ Ruse.  Despite the immense popularity of the character the detective hero’s comic book runs have lasted considerably less than Conan Doyle’s decades long career writing Holmes. 

Despite this, Dynamite Entertainment has decided to forge ahead with a new series of all-new adventures of the intrepid sleuth and his physician cohort.  To sweeten the pot Dynamite has scored the talents of a pair of writers on a rapidly rising star – Leah Moore and John Reppion.  Can they do the impossible and re-launch Sherlock Holmes to superstardom and bring in a whole new generation of readers as well?

It is 1895 and a bombing in the East End, the visit of a foreign Baron with a tarnished reputation, and the threat to the life of a retired political functionary may seem to have nothing in common on the surface and yet all have been tied in by the threat of more explosions and death.  Holmes and Watson have been called in to defend the life of the retired politician – a case which should be a simple one for Holmes’ intellect.  Before the night is through, however, the case will become a tangled skein that looks to form a noose around the neck of Holmes himself!

Leah Moore may be the daughter of comic book legend Alan Moore but in recent years she, along with husband and partner John Reppion, have been slowly gaining momentum and making reputations for themselves as clever scripters with often unique points of view.  If nothing else, their British background gives their Victorian London a more authentic feel as the characters use language and dialect unique to the place and period. 

The writing duo also seems to have a good handle on Conan Doyle’s style.  While they, wisely, do not try to ape that writer they do pick up on some of the themes and stock characters which often appeared in the original Holmes stories – for example, an infirm client and a nobleman embroiled in a scandal. 

There is also a similarity of pacing here that lends a feeling of authenticity.  But what of the mystery itself?  Moore and Reppion have set a very interesting stage and, so far, have the beginnings of an intriguing and twisty mystery; certainly the last page is a shocker to hook any mystery buff.  The thing about a mystery story is that it is hard to judge it until it is finished.  Only then can the reader decide if the denouement is appropriate and satisfying.

The art, provided by Aaron Campbell is solid but herein lies the rub: there is not much to do here.  Many of the original Holmes stories passed the pages with descriptions of the people or places – lending atmosphere to the tales, allowing readers to picture things in their minds, and dropping clues to the mystery as well.  When pictures replace the prose for that purpose quite a bit of what readers are left with are figures standing around talking. 

Where Campbell is allowed to set the stage – a rainy street, a Victorian London cab, the crowded buildings of old London’s East Side, he does a good job – but when left with characters discussing matters things tend to get a bit dull rather quickly.  Certainly, this is a pitfall of a comic based on this subject matter but a crafty artist will finds ways of creating more visual interest to help bolster the dialogue heavy scenes.  Campbell certainly has an eye for detail and has done his homework on the period so hopefully, as he becomes more at ease with the characters and the pacing he will find ways of sprucing things up.

If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, well, admittedly, there is a bit here that seems out-of-character for the character but I, for one, will reserve judgment until the whole story is told.  As for the rest of it, there are some interesting parallels here – that Conan Doyle’s longer stories and novels were originally serialized makes this new comic book foray seem like a little updating of the past.  For those who are mystery lovers but often succumb to the temptation of reading “whodunit” before finishing the whole book the format now makes that impossible. 

A number of publishers these days are experimenting with different genres and different types of comic books and so Dynamite’s foray into the mystery world with a character considered the father of the detective novel is to be applauded.  Sherlock Holmes returns in a story that is worthy of his name and for lovers of a good mystery here is a new way of enjoying it.

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