Now here’s a way to pad an issue… Tom Mandrake illustrates a flashback (with a far more traditional–read recognizable–Holmes). It’s Holmes and Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls with a different conclusion–Moriarty has zombie juice ready to save him after he… ahem… falls. It’s one heck of a way to waste pages. The artwork’s lovely and all but it’s not narratively important. In fact, it’d have been a lot more effective in the first issue without it being clear it was Moriarty.
The rest of the issue is just bridging material, presumably, to set up the climax of the series. There’s finally a big zombie battle in London, but we only get to see a little bit of it, with Moriarty (the zombie) showing it to his sidekick (and the reader) through a window.
Then tanks show up to save Holmes and Watson (and Mrs. Hudson) and it’s silly.
And Death Shall Have No Dominion; writer, Ian Edgington; penciller, Davide Fabbri; inker, Tom Mandrake; colorist, Carrie Strachan; letterer, Saida Temofonte; editors, Kristy Quinn and Ben Abernathy; publisher, Wildstorm.
Half the issue is talking heads, the other half is zombie attacks on London. The zombie attacks work better. Fabbri’s not suited for talking heads, especially not with his characters boldly edged, standing out against the backgrounds. It makes it seem unreal and artificial, something a talking heads scene should never be.
The exposition–it’s Holmes, Watson and Mycroft sitting around and basically recapping what the reader already knows and what Holmes and Watson don’t yet–is a little tedious. The payoff comes with the zombie attacks, but even those are a little… restrained. There’s not the en masse zombie attack yet, only the hints of it.
The concept for the series–the tagline–is better than Edginton’s script, unfortunately. His Holmes is a pop culture figure, not really Conan Doyle’s consulting detective. He’s playing to zombie fans, not Holmes aficionados. In fact, he’s ignoring them, except for occasional callouts.
Written in Blood; writer, Ian Edgington; artist, Davide Fabbri; colorist, Carrie Strachan; letterer, Saida Temofonte; editors, Kristy Quinn and Ben Abernathy; publisher, Wildstorm.
The second issue brings things quite a bit more into the Sherlock Holmes popular mythology. Edginton uses so many familiar characters I wouldn’t be surprised if Irene Adler shows up at some point soon.
The issue nicely mixes action–zombie action no less–with a more traditional Holmes investigation (even if it is Holmes in the field instead of consulting) and it’s a fine read. My developing concerns are few and the issue only really bothered me when it came to some of Fabbri’s artistic choices.
For example, he draws Watson as a white-haired, mustached young man. Both he and Holmes are young and hip looking (as hip looking as possible) instead of being either faithfully portrayed (based on the Sidney Paget standard) or revisionist. It’s like Sherlock Holmes as a young adult novel series character. It’s a little goofy.
But he’s otherwise fine. A little too steampunk perhaps.
The Skull Beneath the Skin; writer, Ian Edgington; artist, Davide Fabbri; colorist, Carrie Strachan; letterer, Saida Temofonte; editors, Kristy Quinn and Ben Abernathy; publisher, Wildstorm.
The cynic in me has to wonder if this series got the greenlight because of the recent Sherlock Holmes movie. It’s a fantastic concept, Sherlock Holmes vs. zombies (each cover features an reminder of it no less), but it doesn’t seem like a Wildstorm book… though I can never figure out their publishing mentality.
The art, from Davide Fabbri, is a lot cleaner than I was expecting. The covers suggest a certain Victorian icky zombie thing, but Fabbri’s artwork is, well, it’s Wildstorm clean. Holmes and Watson are so generically portrayed, I wouldn’t have been able to pick them out.
Luckily, Edginton’s script is strong in its portrayal of the two. I’m not sure about his overly complicated history of the zombies in Victorian London, which is only hinted at here, not even fully explained, and already I feel like he’s spent too much time on it.
But good stuff.
The Star of Ill-Omen; writer, Ian Edgington; artist, Davide Fabbri; colorist, Carrie Strachan; letterer, Saida Temofonte; editors, Kristy Quinn and Ben Abernathy; publisher, Wildstorm.