Review – Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man #1-4 (Dynamite)

Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Writers: Leah Moore, John Reppion
Artwork: Julius Ohta
Colours: Ellie Wright
Lettering: Simon Bowland
Release Date (issue #4): 15th August 2018

As Holmes himself might put it, “this is a fascinatingly intriguing case, Watson.” Yes, the first four issues of Sherlock Holmes and the Vanishing Man have had me gripped with every page and I’m enjoying every moment of it.

The case in question is that of the disappearance of Michael Williams (interestingly the name of one of the many actors who have played Watson over the years in audio drama), a new story but one filled to the brim with Conan Doyle nostalgia.

A mild-mannered businessman with a seemingly loving wife and many adopted children has disappeared. Holmes is jolted from his drug-induced boredom in search of this missing man with the ever faithful Dr Watson in tow, embarking on a tale every bit as confusing and mesmerising as if good old Arthur wrote it himself. Egyptian curses, kidnapped irregulars, lost identities and a curious side-plot involving a famous professor with a taste for maniacal extracurricular activities.

The first thing I noticed right from the first issue was the attention to detail from both the artists and writers.  They’ve clearly done their research, recreating the set-up of 221b and the rest of Victorian London wonderfully, while adding brilliant references like the real life unsolved Thames Torso murders of 1873.

The characters are all recreated to match their iconic looks, albeit with their own unique spin, an approach which I admired. While Watson maintains his classic older look, Holmes seems younger like a mix of Robert Downey Jr and Basil Rathbone, choosing to do away with the iconic deer stalker and picking up his top hat, once again in line with the original Strand stories.

As always, it’s the little details which make any great Holmes story. It’s not about the Hollywood flair of the BBC Sherlock, it’s about gently pushing the reader forwards with minute touches and keeping them guessing about just where the case might go. Holmes is very human in this story which I love, not some deducing machine but someone who makes mistakes and tries to make amends for them. His addiction to cocaine is one of the many important plot points, all of which intertwine to take the story forward.

The first issue has a great literal and metaphorical image, the fireplace reflecting in Holmes’ eyes as the new case begins. It’s not often you see this level of insight into a character portrayed in such a way. It’s also things like this which really show that Moore, Reppion and Ketner simply get the character and are willing to cater to the true fans in a way that only Anthony Horowitz has done with his Holmes outing in House of Silk.

The story is filled with so much intrigue that four issues in it’s still impossible to see where this will end up until the inevitable “well it’s really elementary my dear Watson” moment waiting for us at the end.  A beautifully character-driven tale where the expansive cast are just as important to the story as Holmes himself. A true journey into Victorian Consulting Detective work.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy

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