Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man #2



VanishingMan2-minPrinted 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!”

This article is the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of the site owner.


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For the past forty or so years I have been collecting American comics… To begin with they were predominantly black and white British reprints of “Marvel Comics Group” titles such as “Spider-Man Comics Weekly”, “The Mighty World of Marvel” and “Star Wars Weekly”; all six to ten pence editions I could store away under my bed in a large cardboard box. As a result though I was introduced to the teenage angst of Peter Parker, the discovery of a frozen Captain America by Earth's Mightiest Heroes, witnessed the dreadful rage of Doctor Bruce Banner, and even travelled to a galaxy far far away... Later I would be able to afford actual America colour comic books and supplemented my collection of “Marvel” titles such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “Howard the Duck” and “Captain America” with some “DC Comics” issues of “Batman”, “Green Lantern” and “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew”. There would even be time for Independent publications such as “Wildcats”, “Spawn” and “The Authority”. These days however I must admit to yearning back to the simpler times of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, back to when both artwork and storylines were straightforward, easy to follow and super-heroes were just starting out on their adventures. A time when no-one had yet to be resurrected from the dead for the fourth time. I've written over seven hundred comic book reviews on my blog over the past few years, with them usually following my latest purchases, all wrapped up in a large brown paper bag, as well as occasional ‘flashbacks’ to some of the classic "Golden Age" issues I already own…

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