Victorian Undead Special: Sherlock Holmes vs. Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde
Sherlock Holmes, Jekyll/Hyde, Late 1800’s London and Murder Mystery. Do all 4 of these elements combine together knock one out of the park?
When it comes to the horror genre, there is one thing that has never gone out of style, and that is Zombies. Over the past 10 decades, they have only gone through one decade (The 1940’s) where they aren’t involved in some iconic part of Popular Culture. From their humble beginnings in a ”Thousand and One Nights, to their “modern” roots in Mary Shelly’s ” Frankenstein”, till today’s gripping takes on the genre that include The Walking Dead, Planet Terror, I Zombie, and a host of others, there is a good reason why there only rival in popularity of Horror Icons is the Kings and Queens themselves in Vampires. Over the past 20 years, besides cross the genre lines, one of the popular things to do with Zombies is set them in different time periods, and tells the story of how they would fight such an Infestation. It should be no surprise that someone would eventually use the literary gold mine that is Late 1800’s London as the setting for this type of story. Wildstorm would pull the trigger on this, and give us the series known as “Victorian Undead.”
The tall and short of Victorian Undead goes like this. In 1898 a Zombie Plague hits London, with Sherlock Holmes being the only man that has a chance of rallying London in a successful bid against the Horde of the Undead. By the end of the story, Sherlock and London are able to triumph over their tormentors, but not without burning most of the city to the Ground, leaving and indelible scar on the whole entire British Empire. Fast forward 11 months later, and we are not only in 1899, but in the setting for the one shot-special, and this story doesn’t just have Sherlock Holmes and Watson as the main characters. This time they’re going up against Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in a battle that cover sells as one for the ages. It was something that got me looking forward to reading this, and learning what I really thought of it.
The thing that stood out the most for this reviewer was the writing contained inside of the book. It doesn’t take very long for the book to set the tone of the story we’re about to read. The Dialogue is also extremely strong, as we don’t have to worry about voices overlapping as no two characters sound the same. In addition, we also learn everything we need to know about the characters through their speech patterns. Another thing that impressed the reviewer was the way another type of undead was interwoven into the lore of the story (not to mention the history of one of the main characters.). At its fundamentals this book is soundly written, and doesn’t bore you in those fundamentals. Ian Edington has plenty to be proud of from this effort.
As for the art, we are treated to a lot more goes right than it does wrong. The colors are not only appropriate for virtually every scene , but are stupendously well done and it helps the art in the book stand out in spades. Not only that they also went the extra mile showing the same classic look of the rebuilt London, but you could also feel that it’s also a New London from the ambiance displayed. It would be nothing but praises from the art, if there weren’t a few pages where it felt like the colors and pencils ran. While it doesn’t ruin the book, it’s kind of jarring when the rest of the book is drawn so well. Maybe it was an unfortunate printing mistake, but it rears its ugly head in the proceedings.
With that said, there is one thing that some people are not going to be able to get past, and that’s the fact that there really is no mystery as to how this story is going to turn out. With Sherlock Holmes as the protagonist, you would think there would be more suspense to the proceedings, but that is not the case. Even the way they throw you off becomes obvious once you sit down and read it a second time. This may be one of those times where a little decompression would help things, making this story a 2 parter, or maybe a 64 Page Comic. With that said, this doesn’t mean that the comic is worthless, there are still plenty of things to like (especially if you’re a Watson Fan) from the writing, to the art, and the bridge into the next part of this storyline. This wasn’t a Smashing homerun that “Billy the Kid” was, but it was definitely a Solid Triple that helps to keep the runners moving along, making it a good place to start if you have any interest in this series.
Story ***1/4 (6.5): The writing here is solid and moves the story along at a great pace, as the dialogue stands out. If only the mystery was stronger, then this would’ve gotten a 1 and half points more.
Art ***3/4 (7.5): Great Art all around, that’s only taken down a notch by a couple of pages.
Accessibility: ****1/2 (9): Even if you haven’t read the prequel you are given almost everything you need to read this story. It also serves as a great primer to the Universe without a heap of redundancy.
Final Judgment: ***1/2 (7 out of 10)