I don’t usually read comic books. I am about as visually oriented as a cave salamander, and I’m picky about dialog. However, I can’t ignore a new adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Issue 2 just came out, so Issue 1 of Watson and Holmes is now in my reviewable price range! The TV show Elementary transplanted Holmes from London to New York, but it’s set in Brooklyn Heights and filmed in Harlem. Watson and Holmes actually takes place in Harlem. That is as awesome as you think it is. Also contains: Infanticide, deductions, and Baker Street Irregulars.
Important things to know about Watson and Holmes: First, the author is true to the canon’s intent throughout, so you get the characters you love in a new setting (and I don’t believe that “you can’t take Holmes out of London” tripe. He must be an expert on a city, but it could be any city.) Second, you’re going to want to read this on a device that accommodates color. The artwork is excellent. It’s the first comic book I’ve read in which the inside art is as great as the cover art. Third, the mystery is not solved in this issue. Issue 2 is also 99¢, but I was still a bit disappointed.
I love many things about this adaptation. Let’s start with the title: Watson first! Without Watson it would be hard to appreciate Holmes, so it’s about time the man got his due. Holmes is far less insufferable in here than in most adaptations, although he refuses to acknowledge that Jon (no “h”) is a medical intern, not a doctor. The author is setting up a cool bridge between Watson’s military career and his medical one. And yes, our heroes are black. I’m not going to say any more about that because anything I say, including this sentence, will be interpreted as offensive by somebody.
Mostly I wish there was more to Issue 1! Our heroes meet and get right to work, and that’s great, but it really bothered me that the issue ends in the middle of an action scene. I’m going to buy Issue 2, which I’m sure was the intent, but it’s still aggravating. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used a novella to get these two together, their backstories described, and their mystery solved. This could be my own bias toward prose. The original stories were released in serial format, after all. The dialog’s not as clever as the BBC’s adaptation, probably hampered by the format, but the characters are truer to the originals than Elementary.
I recommend this comic book to Sherlockians and Holmesians who enjoy the graphic format and want to see their favorite detective in a new color and culture.