Although I wanted to give Adler #1 a fair shot, the reliance on cliche and overly familiar elements made it just another forgettable action thriller. It’s written by Lavie Tidhar and illustrated by Paul McCaffrey, and I previously posted some preview pages and covers.
I liked the idea of teaming up a bunch of women who transcend the expectations of their era, but I object to most of this first issue actually being about Jane Eyre, who’s pulled from watching men die on the battlefield (she’s a nurse) to narrate. Thanks to Lady Havisham, she is introduced to Irene Adler, who is written to sound just like Sherlock Holmes (who we’re told is off at Baskerville). In fact, her first major speech is very close in many respects to Sherlock’s first conversation with John Watson in the BBC series. (There’s acknowledging an influence, and then there’s lightly disguising plagiarism. But it explains why Jane is suddenly returned from war; she’s our Watson.)
All the women have similar body types, with large busts, the same face, and what looks like heavy eyeliner. You won’t be surprised to note that Ayesha, “Queen of the Amazons”, is hanging around dirty, foggy London in bikini boob armor, ridiculous as that is.
Lady Havisham’s hair explodes from the back of her head, making her resemble a Vegas showgirl at rest, some ridiculous bird, or maybe an antique Harley Quinn. She’s also apparently a mad scientist. It would also have helped if we were told her first name is Estella, since people call her one or the other but never both together. There is a cast introduction page, which also doesn’t mention the name Estella or, weirdly, Jane’s last name except in a riddle.
The bad guy is Moriarty, whom I am distinctly tired of. He also demonstrates how much a villain he is by killing a henchman, another cliche relied on by those who don’t know how to write beyond shortcuts.
This is the kind of comic that plays into negative stereotypes of the medium — that it’s all about visuals aimed at teenage boys and meaningless action. Of course, this is only a first issue. Once the team of extraordinary women actually forms, things might improve. But as something that’s geared to excite people about the idea and bring them back for more, I don’t think it’s successful.
There’s a short trailer, if you want to see more of the art and characters:
(The publisher provided a digital review copy.)