Review by Frank Plowright
Seeing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s name on a graphic novel is a surprise, and for those that don’t know there’s the even greater surprise of discovering the man who was once the world’s greatest basketball player also wrote the novel this is based on. As with almost all celebrities credited with writing novels, Abdul-Jabbar had a writing partner, screenwriter Anna Waterhouse, but unlike most celebrities there was no masquerade as she was cover-credited, as she was on the sequel. Her name is absent here, though, with what seems to be all-round writer and college professor Raymond Obstfeld’s adaptation of the novel.
With both Holmes brothers now out of copyright, the first novel featured Sherlock, but starred Mycroft, equally clever, arrogant and infuriating, but here in his younger days also conniving and deceitful. He’s swept from Cambridge University to the USA in search of weapons conceived by a group of late 19th century science-fiction writers and manufactured by Britain’s top scientists of the Victorian era, where is where the problems begin. Mycroft is tasked with recovering the prototypes, after all the scientists have been murdered.
Mycroft’s annoying personality is kept intact, and the writing generally keeps a twist ahead of the reader, with impossible deductions trotted out almost by the page. Joshua Cassara’s art evokes the period and the people, but isn’t always best served by the swathes of dark colour applied by Luis Guerrero.
The writers can’t resist the temptation to pepper the story with actual historical personalities, and they prove the weakest aspects, Queen Victoria too knowing and Jesse James too clichéd, while a late revelation as to family connections is too contrived. However, for the most part those who enjoy a dabble with Holmes should be satisfied with this period action thriller.