An advance review of the Dark Horse trade!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Sometimes good police work just isn't enough, as Inspector Thomas Adye? of Scotland Yard finds out when he's assigned to the Jack the Ripper ?case. He'll need the guidance of imprisoned madman and amoral ?libertine Dr. Henry Jekyll, whose mind-splitting serum Jack might be ?using to commit his bloody murders. With London's two greatest monsters pitted against one another, will Adye?—and his soul—survive intact?
• A thrilling Victorian horror mystery written by exciting newcomer Cole Haddon.
• Collecting The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde #1-#4.
"...Intense and dark"—Player Affinity
There are stories, there are myths, and then there are legends. The Saw movies make for a good story, Paul Bunyan is the quintessential definition of American myth, and the Universal monsters are the things of legend. For the unenlightened, the Universal monsters are those made popular by horror movies made by Universal Studios in the first half of the 20th century, most notably Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and one of my personal favorites, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
What sets J&H apart from the rest, besides capturing the imagination with a truly horrifying monster, is the intelligent revelation about the complexities of good and evil within the human psyche. Was Hyde a truly separate evil entity unto himself, or was he merely Jekyll's truest desires and aspirations come to fruition? All of these questions were answered in the original novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, and every idea was not only explored in the graphic novel; I dare say they were improved upon.
From what I've seen in Strange Case of Mr. Hyde so far, there is a clear love for the characters and for the story. The writing is the opposite of lazy and uninspired. Every bit of dialogue is natural and fluent. All character development follows a flow of events befitting the individuals in each situation. And one major advantage that this book has over others in its genre is it's a timepiece that is actually genuinely reflective of the time; not one piece of technology is out of place here. It may seem like nitpicking, but try sitting through Wild Wild West after reading this and you'll get my point exactly.
The only complaint made about the artwork is indicative of any visual medium based in 19th century Europe; telling apart characters can be cumbersome and annoying. Everyone is white, everyone is always wearing some kind of suit and everyone has little to no facial hair. However, to alleviate this monotony the artist saw fit to give everyone their own color suit; even the members of Scotland Yard. It may not be very believable, but it's remarkably practical.
The basic plot is actually reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs. It takes place five years after Mr. Hyde has been captured by the authorities. Someone is killing prostitutes in such a grisly manner and managing to escape that law – which causes everyone to think that Mr. Hyde has made a return. The popular belief is that Mr. Hyde is dead, but he (as Dr. Jekyll) is actually being kept in isolation in the depths of a dungeon-esque prison below Scotland Yard. After seeing a few details of the murder, Jekyll seems to know more than anyone should, prompting our lead protagonist and detective Tom to utilize his Jekyll's expertise in these matters. At this point it is said that Jekyll's Hyde persona has been completely wiped out by his withdrawal from the precious serum.
There is a great deal of suspense because the reader knows that Jekyll is playing his own game. Is the Hyde persona in fact completely wiped out? And who is this new person who has such a familiarity for both Hyde and Jekyll; as well as his own, stronger version of the infamous serum? The lines of good and evil, moral and immoral and the rationalization of the justification of means to reach an end are all explored in detail.
The audience's familiarity with the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is completely irrelevant. Although there is a certain dependence upon the source material, this story is strong enough to completely stand on its own. And with the introduction of a new protagonist and the deeper exploration of the story's antagonist, as well as delving deeper into the benevolent intentions and hellish manifestations of Dr. Jekyll, your foreknowledge is beneficial, albeit not necessary.
In conclusion, and at the risk of pandering, there just isn't anything to truly dislike about this story. It is a well-paced, intelligent psychological story that balances dry, subtle comedy as well as inciting feelings of peril and suspense. This is a definite recommendation; three stars out of four.
Review by: Dan Buckley