After a lifetime of reading comic books, I gave them up last spring. I’ve had my share of problems with the medium in past years, from rising prices to lack of availability to the complete disenfranchisement of Wally West. (And a greater tragedy, comics have never known.) I knew digital comics were up and coming, so I figured I’d just wait and see what happened with that . . . after all, I liked reading comics, not really piling them up, year after year, in enough longboxes that you could eventually build an igloo out of them.
What does this have to do with our friend Sherlock Holmes?
Well, today I made my first venture into digital comics, with Watson and Holmes written by Karl Bollers and drawn by Rick Leonardi, the first modernized New York Sherlock we’re getting this fall. Published by Brandon Perlow, Watson and Holmes is more than just an ocean and a century away from recent Sherlock Holmes comics – it’s a whole world away.
No zombies. No tongue-in-cheek camp. No American attempts at Victorian stereotypes. Watson and Holmes is just a straightforward, serious attempt to bring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to to the New World.
It’s well-drawn, it moves along well, it’s a pretty good comic book. But, as we’ll soon be asking of a certain CBS television show, is it Sherlock Holmes?
Well, I’m not quite sure yet. Holmes and Watson have just met, and they’ve started an adventure together, but as the title would imply, Dr. Watson seems to be the prominent player so far. He’s solid, caring, and just a bit of a badass . . . something that might be a trend in modern Watsons. (We’ll have to see how Lucy Liu’s incarnation does – we know she has it in her.) As he heads straight into a case with Holmes, we don’t get too much personality on the detective. Holmes tends to move straight ahead when on a scent, and that’s all of him we see here. Hopefully there will be more of him to come.
The other element that’s missing so far in this rendition is the remarkable, the fantastic, the possibly supernatural element that tended to be the centerpiece of the best Sherlock Holmes stories. Straight crime dramas were never Holmes’s turf. An overlay of gritty urbanity won’t stop a Sherlock from being Sherlock, but even dark and serious, he needs a bit of flash, something to set his cases apart from something C.S.I. Wherever would handle.
But that’s just an old Sherlockian’s POV. Watson and Holmes is good enough to come back next issue and see what develops. And well worth stepping into digital comics for.