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Review Group: Victorian Undead Special

Written by John Snow on Wednesday, October 20 2010 and posted in Reviews

BlueStreak had the pick for new comics shipping October 13th and he selected Victorian Undead Special by Ian Edginton and Horacio Domingues.

banner_OHredThe Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.

A $5 book gets picked an suddenly everyone is really busy. Only 48, Stephen and myself had nothing better to do apparently. So what did we think of Wildstorm's Sherlock Holmes/Jeckyll and Hyde mashup? Let's find out.

UPDATE: Now with 3 more reviews!

1013-vus_coverReview by 48THRiLLS

I remember wanting to check this book out when it started but I spaced it so I was quite curious to read this. I like the concept, Holmes vs Zombies, Jekyll/Hyde, and soon Dracula... it has a LOEG feel to it i suppose. This was a fun little one shot, if I had a complaint it would be that it lacks any the mystery that is synonymous Sherlock Holmes but since you already know that Mr. Hyde is Dr. Jekyll it would be hard to do that I guess. The art was okay, it is hard for me to not picture RDJ as Holmes though... I am not sure I liked the coloring though, it seemed flat to me or something... I am poor at describing artistic crap.
I didn't think this was the best thing ever or anything but I will check out the trade from my library

ART - 6

Review by Stephen Day

Set eleven months after the events of the first Victorian Undead series, the Victorian Undead Special is not as good as the first story, but still enjoyable in its own right.

The way this story is set up created a problem that the first series didn't have to deal with, that being a lack of a sense of mystery on the part of the reader. In the first series the reader knew that Moriarty was the villain behind the events depicted, but so did Holmes and the mystery that he was trying to puzzle out was Moriarty's location. Here the reader knows that Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are the same person, but the mystery Holmes is dealing with surrounds him trying to figure out how events surrounding Jekyll fit together. As a result, Victorian Undead Special is enjoyable, but nowhere near as compelling as the first series.

6 out of 10

Review by John Snow

Character aside, the key ingredient to a Sherlock Holmes mystery? The mystery. Telling a Jekyll and Hyde story with Sherlock Holmes doesn't leave any mystery at all for the reader. All this special does is present a rather bland take on Sherlock Holmes and put him through the motions of solving a case where we already know how it is going to end. I was bored and ready for it to be over before I even hit the halfway point. This easily takes the prize for the most tedious comic I've read this year.

The art started out strong, but it became more and more bland as it progressed. I love the cover though, probably my favorite thing Van Sciver has done since his Cyber Frog days.

Story: 1
Art: 6
Overall: 3.5

Review by SilverPhoenix

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.

The Verdict

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)

Review by Victorian Squid

7 for me too. It was fun, but not as fun as the mini which comes out in tpb this week, I think. This book makes an ok bridge between the first mini and the upcoming Dracula one, but it wouldn't be a great introduction to the Victorian Undead.

Review by BlueStreak

Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite characters of all time. Not to brag on the subject, but I've read all the Doyle stories multiple times, watched most television and movie adaptations of the Great Detective and even named one of my cats Basil after Basil Rathbone. I love a great Sherlock Holmes story and seeing him work his way through impossible mystery after mystery.

That being said, I felt a little jilted by Victorian Undead Special's lack of a mystery. The pieces were too neatly laid out for Holmes, even if the reader already knew who the culprit was. That was the biggest flaw surrounding Victorian Undead Special. However, besides the lack of mystery in the plot, everything else was as solid as a Victorian crossover zombie story could get. There was continuation of the zombie plot from the original miniseries, solid characterization and a unique explanation for Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. The biggest upside was the improved art from the original miniseries, which was a major drawback from the original.

Overall, Edginton wrote a great story. Here's to hoping that he's able to successfully build a mystery (which is always the hardest part to get right with Holmes) in his next installment of Victorian Undead.

7 of 10

That gives Victorian Undead Special a group score of 6.25.  Three Tuesday reviews pulled it up a little, but 6.25 doesn't exactly scream that you should run out and buy it.

For what McKegan calls "all the geeky, bitchy arguing about comics you'd expect from a comic message board condensed into absolute awesomeness", check out this week's thread and post your own review in The News Stand forum.

Chubbles has the pick for October 20th and he has selected Kick Ass 2 #1 from ICON/Marvel Comics. Look for the new thread in The News Stand forum on Wednesday morning to join in on the fun and post your own review!.

1020-ka2_coverKick Ass 2 #1


The sequel to the New York Times best-selling comic--which spawned the hit movie--continues! When Dave Lizewski put on his mask and became Kick-Ass, he never imagined things would go this far. Now Dave comes face-to-face with a world he helped bring about, as his dreams of a world of superheroes come true...but will those dreams turn to nightmares? Don't miss the comic book event of the year! Plus: Hit-Girl! Mature $2.99

Written or Contributed by: John Snow

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