Written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld | Art by Joshua Cassara | Published by Titan Comics
I missed the first issue of this series, so will have to try and read that at some point, but the first thing that struck me about this series was the fact it was being written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yes, THAT Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Turns out the former basketball superstar is also an actor, award winning writer and a US cultural ambassador…and a writer of comic books featuring Sherlock Holmes more intelligent brother Mycroft. Apparently Kareem is a bit of a Sherlock fan, and has co-wrote a Sherlock prose novel too. Who says comics aren’t educational, I just learnt a whole lot I never knew. But I digress.
To those not up on their Sherlock Holmes background, Mycroft Holmes is Sherlock’s even more intelligent older brother. The two of them have something of a love/ hate relationship, with each trying to outdo the other, and this series is interesting as we have mostly seen Mycroft from the viewpoint of Sherlock. Abdul-Jabbar’s take on Mycroft is as something of a man about town, a genius playboy of sorts, but this is a younger Mycroft, before he became the establishment figure he shows up as in the Conan Doyle novels.
The first issue had Mycroft kidnapped by Queen Victoria herself, this being 1874, to get him to help try and avert some coming disaster that would befall not only the British Empire, but the entire world. Issue 2 opens with Mycroft being shown around a secret chamber underneath Buckingham Palace, filled to the brim with various gadgets and weapons, kind of early steampunk tech. These were the creations of a group called the Futurists, formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and featuring such greats as Jules Verne and Mark Twain. The idea was to create things that would advance medicine, travel, agriculture, industry etc. Of course, there were soon attempts to weaponise them.
Although the blueprints to the weaponised versions were destroyed, it seems as though some group got access to them first, and plan to auction off these incredibly destructive weapons to the highest bidder. All the original scientists have been assassinated, save one Dr Cromwell who is being held prisoner by the government as he refuses to help recreate the weapons. His interrogation is interrupted by the attack of a Frankenstein-like creature, who is eventually dispatched. Mycroft deduces that the missing blueprints are now in the United States, where we also witness an attack at the site of the Liberty Bell by a mysterious deep sea diving suit wearing assailant.
This issue fit more into its pages than many series fit into 4 issues. We had a whole lot of exposition and background, a lot of scenes with characters just talking, but this blended perfectly with the pacing, and made the inevitable action scenes, when they came, stand out even more. The dialogue between characters, on which much of this issue stood or fell, was excellent. Not only in moving the plot along in an interesting way, but in capturing the voice of each character, especially Mycroft’s. The attention to historic detail was also very good, with some nice throw away background easter eggs and details. Fun to read.
The art and colouring was also good quality. Joshua Cassara is as reliable as they come, I especially liked his previous work on The Troop. Here he shows a nice attention to period detail, with nice layouts that showcase his art while not letting the large amount of word bubbles make the art look cramped or overshadowed. As a lot of the issue is talking, he mixed up the panels nicely making what could be relatively boring talking heads actually come across as quite cinematic, with a nice use of different angles, close-ups, panning out etc. Top notch art.
I liked this issue a lot, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t too.
Mycroft Holmes #2 is out now from Titan Comics