Writer: Jeff Rider
Illustrator: Ismael Canales
Publisher: Cloudwrangler Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A period thriller set in the London of Sherlock Holmes, pitting the Great Detective’s nephew and a mysterious American agent against a murderous secret society in the shadow of the coming Great War.
The book is an action-packed mix of Sherlock Holmes, Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country, and television like Agent Carter or Peaky Blinders.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
It’s England, 1914. The entire world is falling into war. Mycroft Holmes runs the 6th Special Intelligence Service, Sherlock is nowhere to be found, and their brilliant nephew Sheffield has become a key figure in a brand new game. Major Holmes & Captain Watson kicks off as Sheffield and Imogene “Watson” have been working together six months. When a brutal murder is staged to resemble one of Sherlock’s first cases, they find themselves pulling on a thread that leads to a secret organization known only as “The Moriarty.” This group, willing to kill or die for an unknown cause, appears to be more than a few steps ahead and led by a figure with ties to their pasts.
Sheffield pairs brash confidence with a mind to rival Sherlock’s, Watson has an easy competence with a dazzling range of skills, but will that be enough when the fate of the Holmes family and London itself hangs in the balance?
Rider shows that he clearly understands the necessary elements of the genres and characters his story requires and creates a story that balances the action of James Bond with the puzzle-solving satisfaction of a mystery.
With so much going on in the book, Canales’ ability to clearly portray it all—from crime scene investigations and fireside arguments to foot chases and hand-to-hand combat—is invaluable.
Sorruca’s coloring is one of the major reasons that the book manages to look like a sharply made period film or high-budget television show, hitting a balance of lighting & tone that just feels right for this sort of story.
When it comes to the lettering, Birch does a great job using the space of the page to help the often large amounts of dialogue match the pace of the action.
I liked the way this Holmes and Watson work together, neither one requiring a glaring gap in skill in order to make way for the other. They have different specialties but are both dangerous and clever enough to be the other's equal.
Obvious Holmesian references are expected, but the more subtle references that carry surprising weight for the dedicated fans are a fun treat.
The book adds a cast with a dose of diversity that is missing from most historical depictions of the period and adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, and it doesn’t push them to the side in order to get the job done.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The origins of some characters, and the fates of others, may not sit well with fans of the canonical Holmes that don’t appreciate much deviation.
While the secret society at the heart of the danger facing our protagonists is devious and dangerous, naming it “The Moriarty” seems a bit too on-the-nose, even when the reasons for that name become clear.
A minor downside of fairly great action sequences is that the times when it doesn’t quite manage to convey what’s going on (or looks stiff) stand out more.
The story’s focus on the Holmes family and its history is a double-edged sword, as it makes a large chunk of the story feel rather small in scope compared to the coming World War that looms over the events. Perhaps the concluding issue addresses this.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Those brought to the book by the familiar names of Holmes and Watson will find Major Holmes & Captain Watson a book that is firmly built on the bones of the stories that they love, even if it quickly diverges from those tales.
That said, this creative team doesn’t confuse respect with reverence; this is not a story about the previous generation or the concerns of the Victorian era. Even the clearest nod to earlier tales is there because it also means something to these characters and the situation they find themselves in. And, for those whose only familiarity with all of those stories is modern adaptations or the vague idea of the genius British detective, the story never gets too bogged down or stops moving.
This comic is as bold and unapologetic as its main characters, competently and confidently making its own mark on the world of the Great Detective even as it moves at high speed from murder mystery to espionage thriller.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
The Arcane Cocktail Enthusiast by Jeff Rider & Davide Puppo
Queen & Country by Greg Rucka & Steve Rollston and Brian Hurtt
Sherlock Holmes: The Liverpool Demon by Leah Moore and John Reppion & Matt Triano
If you like the art:
Athena Voltaire by Steve Bryant & Ismael Canales
The Catch by Steve Bryant & Ismael Canales
Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughn & Marcos Martin and Munsta Vicente
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Jeff Rider – Writer
Rider has been telling stories his whole life, and writing for over a decade.
His publishing company, Cloudwrangler Comics, has been active since 2014.
Rider has backed over 160 Kickstarters and constantly lends his platform to support independent comic book projects that use the platform.
Ismael Canales – Illustrator
He got his start in comics roughly a decade ago, starting with a number of short stories for comics in Spain.
Outlander: Ismael is from Spain, and lives in his hometown there.
One of the favorite superheroes growing up was Superlópez, a Spanish superman parody.
Roger Sorruca – Colorist
Sorucca has collaborated with Ismael Canales before, on Athena Voltaire
Outlander: He also hails from Spain!
He is also an accomplished illustrator and digital artist.
Justin Birch – Letterer
He’s a Ringo Award Nominated letterer who has been working since 2015.
Prolific: Birch has worked for DC, IDW, Dynamite, Lion Forge Comics, Mad Cave Studios, Action Lab Comics, and numerous indy publishers.
He has a dog named Kirby!
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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