Written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld | Art by Joshua Cassara | Published by Titan Comics
This was a pleasant surprise on my reading pile last time round. I didn’t really have that high expectations of a comic featuring Sherlock Holmes’s brother (why would you?) but I like the direction they went, in showing us how Mycroft went to being the pillar of the establishment he is in later years because of the adventures he had in his younger years. Clever idea. This Mycroft is a playboy, equally as smart as his to be more famous brother Sherlock, but more socially active, more handsome, though also more self-serving.
Last issue saw Queen Victoria, and a very good imitator, recruit Mycroft to help avert disaster for the British Empire. A whole load of steampunk tech created under Royal approval, not intended to be weapons but converted into them, had had their blueprints stolen. The people who now have these blueprints have shown they can create the weapons as they already exploded bombs and killed innocents. Time is pressing, and Mycroft tracks the blueprints to the U.S, showing equally adept detective skills as Sherlock. His first visit to the States turns out rather badly within minutes, after being attacked almost instantly. Luckily for him, he is saved at the last minute. Great start to the book.
Most of this book is taken up with laying groundwork, as the journey is more important than anything else. The journey allows a lot of dialogue, and we learn some usual background on things past, and some indicators of things to come. We also meet Mr Mason, the rather nasty chap holding the before mentioned blueprints. How nasty? He sews the mouths together of his servants and companions so they can’t reveal anything of him to anyone. And he has a very impressive dastardly moustache. The last panel is also a good one, with the arrival of a cowboy you may just have heard of, a certain Jesse James.
I think I used the word ‘fun’ a lot in my previous review of this series, and it stands up even more so now. This is a really fun read. The dialogue between the characters is often laugh out loud funny, especially the first few pages between Mycroft and Worthington, and then the later ones between Mycroft and his lady friend. You never quite know who, or what, Mycroft is. Is he really just using that young girl to get information, or does he genuinely want to save her? Is he on a patriotic mission through conviction, or just enjoying a jaunt to relieve his boredom? It is fantastic writing to create such a rounded character in such a limited format. I especially loved the flashback sequence with Mycroft and Sherlock as boys, hunting deer. Sherlock was cold, methodical, pure logic. Mycroft was more emotional, more considerate, more human.
The artwork by Joshua Cassara was really good, really creating that world of the 1870′s visually. Period costume and backgrounds were excellent, and although he used a very panel heavy format to tell the story it never felt too crowded or overdone. Cassara always does a good job leaving enough space incorporate text into his panels, but not allowing the text to interfere with the art itself. The colouring throughout was also very good, with flashback sequences a golden hue, as memories often are, contrasting with the darker, harsher colours of the present.
A genuinely great book. Great characters, great story, great art, and some of the best dialogue and use of humour I’ve seen in an age.
If you’re not reading this yet, you should be.