Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man #1

Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man #1 cover

There’s a tendency, when working with a favorite property, to want to include all the well-known bits all at once. But in this case, the result is more like a checklist than a story.

Many of the elements that fans know from the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle — a name that nowhere appears on this comic, by the way, although the incorrect line “Sherlock Holmes TM & © 2018 Dynamite Characters, LLC.” is in the indicia — only appeared two or three times. The Baker Street Irregulars, for example, were in only two novels (of the four) and one short story (of the 56). Arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty only appears once, although he’s mentioned six other times. Yet both are prominent elements here, along with drug-addicted Holmes, Dr. Watson, and the new pieces of a missing explorer, a mummy’s curse, and a brutally murdered chemist.

I found it too much. I was interested in the core mystery, about a kidnapped office clerk (although I found myself distracted seeing his long hair in a ponytail), but all the rest tossed in became a messy distraction.

Also missing are any deductions. Instead of showing us what Holmes knows about the client, the wife of the clerk, from her appearance and behavior, he instead starts speculating about her missing husband. (Well-known Holmes quote from his first appearance: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”) I know it’s hard to write classic mysteries — thrillers are easier, with their reliance on violent encounters to keep the story going — but with Holmes, I do expect some scene of that type. Perhaps future issues will get back to that core element.

Also, while the characters are vibrant and expressive in the art, the voices of the characters are too similar for my taste. If you just gave me dialogue balloons, I couldn’t tell you if it was Holmes or Watson speaking, which is a fatal flaw.

Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man #1 cover

Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man #1 cover by John Cassaday and Jose’ Villarrubia

I was excited to sample this first issue, since I enjoy reading and viewing more adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but overall, it was disappointing. Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man #1 is written by Leah Moore and John Reppion and illustrated by Julius Ohta. It is out May 2, and here are unlettered preview pages. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)

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