Friday, 6 July 2018

Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man #2 - Dynamite Entertainment

Printed nine years after the husband and wife writing team’s “first Holmes series arrived on comic shop shelves”, it is clear to see why “Dynamite Entertainment” was “proud to announce their continuing exploration of a literary icon” with this particular title and its “fantastic job bringing the fog, grime, and blood of Victorian London to the page”. But although the collaborative couple’s script to Issue Two of “Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man” undoubtedly provides “a mystery a bit more in line with the Strand Magazine short stories” as the “pop culture sensation” and faithful companion “continue their search for Michael Williams, only to discover they are not the only people doing so”, it also arguably lacks the enthralling hook and captivating pace which made so many of Arthur Conan Doyle’s adventures so difficult for a reader to put down until finished.

Foremost of these difficulties would appear to be as an unintentional result of the publication’s drab, disconcertingly stained overall appearance. Ellie Wright’s choice of colours outwardly does a very good job of portraying the dirty, squalid brown-grey world “of the original stories.” But in using this oft-times monotone palette to capture such an ‘accurate atmosphere’ throughout the comic, the freelance colourist unfortunately also unwittingly seems to additionally drain the life out of the twenty-two page periodical’s action sequences as well. Most notably, a potentially pulse-pounding foot chase over poultry-packed garden walls, through busy maid-filled kitchens and up tight winding staircases, which ultimately results in Doctor Watson unsuccessfully trying to stop a fleeing villain from charging away on a two-horse driven van.

This sense of listlessness even extends as far as a horrifically macabre-looking scene set within Channel Row Police Station, where Inspector Lestrade discovers the tongue-lolling corpse of Sergeant Bailey in the cell block after two supposed members of Special Branch visited to interview the detective’s latest prisoner. Ordinarily, such a ghastly murder would debatably prove a genuine ‘stand-out’ moment within a narrative, yet in this case, because Julius Ohta’s competently pencilled artwork ‘blends in’ with the rest of the mahogany-tinted storyboard, it only fleetingly catches the audience’s eye before their attention is jarred back to the conclusion of Holmes' aforementioned pursuit; “I think that the gentleman standing in the same spot he was when we arrived is most assuredly watching this house. Hi! You there! Stop! Come, Watson! There’s no time to waste!”

‘First published on the "Dawn of Comics" website.'
Writers: Leah Moore & John Reppion, and Illustrator: Julius Ohta

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