“I really enjoyed this comic book by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,” is not a statement you expect to be making, but I’m making it here and now. Mycroft Holmes: The Apocalypse Handbook #1, the first issue in a limited-series based on the novel Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, is a fun, beautifully drawn comic. The story is a prequel, of sorts, to the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and stars his older – perhaps smarter – brother. The Mycroft of Doyle’s original tales was described as a slow-moving, overweight guy who resisted physical exertion at all cost, but this is not that Mycroft. In fact, everything about this comic book is surprising, and that’s a very good thing.
Mycroft Holmes: The Apocalypse Handbook #1 features a lead character that has more in common with James Bond, a dashing jerk of a fellow who belittles everyone and loves ladies, drinking, and fighting. It doesn’t feel like another Holmes adventure, which is nice because we have plenty of those. Writer Raymond Obstfeld handles the adaptation deftly, introducing us to the character and this unique world with skill and style. Whether you are a long time Holmes fan, a first time reader, or just looking for a solid adventure comic, Obstfeld has you covered making this thing accessible and fast right from the opening scene. Simon Bowland’s smooth lettering certainly helps as well, never crowding a panel or page too much. This is a text heavy comic and with the wrong letterer it could’ve gone south fast, but Bowland is one of the best and clearly the right person for the job.
Of course, none of this would work if it wasn’t for the killer, detailed art from Joshua Cassara. You might think that Titan Comics were merely counting on Abdul-Jabbar’s name and readers’ familiarity with the Holmes legacy to sell this book, but that is clearly not the case. Cassara’s is the MVP on this comic, filling the pages with lush, soft detail and graceful, fluid action. Mycroft Holmes: The Apocalypse Handbook #1 looks fantastic, and that should be it’s biggest selling point, not the famous names attached to it. Cassara’s art is as refreshing as it is dense, he never skimps on a background or a detail, always drawing your eye to the right spot. It certainly helps that his art is colored with equal skill and grace by Luis Guerrero. Even if you have no interest in this character or it’s high profile author, you should check out this comic. The art alone sells it.
There are plenty of readers ready to write off Mycroft Holmes: The Apocalypse Handbook #1 as a cheap adaptation, but they’re missing out. This is a great comic book that is stunningly beautiful and more than just a new take on a classic character.
Image: Titan Comics