Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: Dynamite’s Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes #1
Written by Leah Moore and John Reppion; Illustrated by Aaron Campbell
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been really curious to see what Dynamite does with a Sherlock Holmes series. I described myself as being “skeptically curious” about it and said that “I love Holmes when Doyle writes him, but other writers often portray him as either superhuman or a total ass. It’s rare that someone is able to match Doyle’s ability to balance both aspects of Holmes, but hopefully Leah Moore and John Reppion are up to it.”
When Dynamite offered to send me a PDF of the first issue, I couldn’t resist taking a peek. It’s not the format I’d prefer to read the story in (especially since the PDF was uncolored and I imagine that Campbell’s art will look fantastic in color), but curiosity beat the crap out of delayed gratification and so now I’ve read it.
I should’ve said that coloring will make Campbell’s art even more fantastic. His realistic, detailed linework reminds me of Butch Guice’s stuff on Ruse, which is wonderful to see and about the best you can hope for. He grounds Victorian England in the same way that Steve Epting grounds Captain America. This feels like a real place with real people doing real things. Campbell doesn’t draw every brick and every cobblestone or every line on an old man’s wrinkled face, but he gives the impression that he does.
He draws a great Holmes and Watson too. Holmes is equal parts dashing and arrogant; Watson is simultaneously good-natured and competent. These aren’t caricatures, they’re the characters as I imagine them when I read Doyle.
And – for the most part – the writing lives up to the art. Because some of the story is told in the form of letters and papers that were left blank on my PDF I had a hard time following everything, but I think I’ve got the gist of it. The story’s about a terrorist who’s blowing up buildings in London. Lots of political groups are claiming responsibility for the explosions, but when a former government official is threatened, Holmes is called in to help protect him and discover the bomber’s identity. This is all good and the exposition is made entertaining due to Moore and Reppion’s getting all the voices right for Holmes, Watson, and Inspector Lestrade. Again, this sounds like a Doyle story. So far…
I’ve got to put a spoiler warning up at the end of the paragraph, because I’m going to hint at what happens at the end of the issue. Though, the title of the story – “The Trial of Sherlock Holmes” – gives you a much bigger clue to what happens than I will. Still…
Minor Spoilers Below
My only concern about the issue is that Holmes ends it acting in a way that I can’t ever imagine Holmes acting. In fact, the only possible explanation is that he’s up to something and is behaving out-of-character on purpose in some attempt to flush out the villain. But even then I’m having a hard time convincing myself that Holmes would take this approach.
On the other hand, Moore and Reppion get the first nineteen pages so right that I have to believe they know what they’re doing. I don’t know their work from anything outside of this, but I want to trust them. So I’ve finished the issue the way I went into it: with skeptical curiosity. Now I’m going to have to read more of the story and cross my fingers that my trust’s not misplaced. Well played, Dynamite.
Three out of five scattered “clues” that may or may not have anything to do with solving the mystery. I love that stuff.