Anytime there is an offer to review a story involving The Great Detective, I jump in with both feet. Sherlock Holmes: The Liverpool Demon #1 is no exception to that rule, but it is an exceptional story – one that is sure to please Sherlockians everywhere.
Reuniting the awesome team of Leah Moore and John Reppion to pen this mini-series was a stroke of brilliance, as their grasp of the Victorian age is well suited for comics. They have a way of conveying the dirtiness and griminess of the time through well-written characters and dialogue. From mannerisms to mode of speech, the reader is made to feel as if they are right there in that time and place. The story is captivating and intriguing, two things that make for a great gothic mystery.
Having the story illustrated by Matt Triano was also a great choice. His line work is exceptional, really creating the right visual presentation for the reader. The play of shadows and lamplight on the characters gives it an almost paranormal look. Contrasting the heavier darkness with muted colors in the clothing of the downtrodden street folk portrayed that sense of hopelessness that would be consistent with the time period. Acts of violence are expertly captured without seeming over the top or unbelievable, something that doesn’t always hold true in comics. Yet, he does a wonderful job of finding that perfect level of reality within a fictional story. In addition to Triano’s art inside the book, we are gifted with cover art by Francesco Francavilla, winner of the 2012 Eisner Award for Best Cover Artist. His work is always a pleasure to behold.
As far as the plot goes, the reader is dropped into the very tail end of another mystery, one that is wrapped up quickly in the story but enables our protagonists to be in Liverpool, England’s Second City. After the culmination of the previous case, Sherlock Holmes and his trusted companion, Dr. John Watson, make plans to travel back to London. A random encounter with one of Watson’s old school chums lands the pair at a private club for dinner, renewing the acquaintance. Other pieces to the story are added to give us the strands that will eventually entwine to give us the full story in later issues.
Showing off his mental prowess and deductive skills to the group with whom he sups, it is obvious that Sherlock finds himself bored. As conversation turns to business, events occur to bring the men from their leisure chairs to the streets below, where there is panic amongst the crowds. As shock turns to horror, the reader is made aware of that which frightens the commoners…a creature that “clings to the wall” and has “eye like balls of fire.” Not someone to overreact naturally, Sherlock wastes no time in beginning to compile the facts and data of the incident.
Sherlock Holmes: The Liverpool Demon #1 is everything you could want from a Sherlock Holmes story, really touching on all the necessary components to create a story of which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have been proud. You won’t want to miss this issue if you are a fan of our favorite resident of Baker Street. If you aren’t sure, this is a great issue in which to get your feet wet. Dynamite impressed me once again, really bringing together the right people for an excellent comic. Hope you get the chance to grab this, it’ll make for a merry, albeit creepy, Christmas.