New Paradigm Studios
Writer: Karl Bollers
Artist: Larry Stroman
Colors: Archie Van Buren, Jay David Ramos
Cover: Larry Stroman & Jay David Ramos
Review by Eric Owens
Re-imagining Sherlock Holmes is pretty popular these days, whether it be the action-oriented Sherlock Holmes movies, the Holmes as doctor take of House M.D. or the more direct modernizations of Elementary and Sherlock. The new series Watson and Holmes is a welcome addition to the long list of interpretations.
This version of the classic detective stories is set in Harlem with Holmes and Watson both being African-American and the supporting cast reflecting the demographics of the area.
Get a clue and pick up this updated take on Sherlock Holmes. Jon Watson, now a veteran of the Afghan War and intern at a local medical clinic has dropped the “h” from the original character’s name, but picked up an adorable young son and unpleasant ex-wife. Holmes keeps his well-deserved ego and Baker Street Irregulars.
This time out, the duo is investigating the string of reports of infants left in dumpsters. After one of those infants isn’t found in time, it’s up to Holmes to piece everything together before another young life is lost. There isn’t much evidence to go on, but that’s never stopped any version of the character before.
To his credit, Bollers sets out to do more than simply update Sherlock Holmes stories. Instead, he tells stories with modern relevance using the classic characters as templates. It has the feel of a police procedural television show, but as this issue makes clear, this story isn’t ripped from the headlines. That commentary on society transfers over to commentary on the book itself. The mythology has been tweaked enough that the book is more than capable of standing on its own. The names of the characters could be changed and all references to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creations stripped away and the comic would be just as engaging, but would it have as much chance at attracting attention on the shelves?
Stroman does some nice work in his character designs. His Sherlock has real style when he’s about town. He keeps things interesting with a range of angles. Unfortunately, this is somewhat mitigated by the overuse of letterbox panels. While they’re sometimes very effective, like the close-up of Holme’s eye when he realizes something’s wrong or the distant shot of a mother discovering her baby is missing from its stroller, the shape of these panels often ends up making the images seem like they’re cropped too tightly. Van Buren and Ramos do a fine job on colors, and outside of a few places it’s hard to notice a difference once Ramos‘ pages are over.
Bollers is definitely doing his own thing with this comic, using our familiarity with the original characters to quickly get us involved with the unique story. Get a clue and get onboard with this comic
Eric is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @EricDOwens.