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Comic Book Review
Basketball legend, novelist and superstar polymath Kareem Abdul-Jabbar brings his take on Sherlock Holmes’s older brother to comics! The diffident, brilliant Mycroft Holmes is pulled into a globe-spanning adventure at the behest of Queen Victoria and a secret organisation at the heart of the British government. A madman is on the loose with civilisation-destroying weapons, each two hundred years in advance of the status quo. Can the smartest man in England set aside his idle, womanising ways for long enough to track down the foe that may be his match…?
This mini-series is an all-new adventure set in the world of the bestselling Mycroft Holmes novel, which was penned last year by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. This time the retired NBA star’s co-author is novelist and screenwriter Raymond Obstfeld (The Joker and the Thief). The story takes place four years after the events of the novel, in 1874, though you would be forgiven for thinking that this is an earlier point in Mycroft’s life, since the indolent young man has reverted to the student life in preference to holding down a regular job.
Long before he became a corpulent member of the Diogenes Club, Mycroft exhibits all the cocky attitude and cold logic that we have come to expect from his younger brother (especially as performed by Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC TV’s Sherlock). When posed the philosophical question of whether he would rescue the Mona Lisa or a pet dog from a burning building, Mycroft argues that he wouldn’t be inclined to save either of them: “A man could get injured. Worse, ruin a perfectly good suit. My tailor would be furious.”
Unlike most depictions of Sherlock Holmes, however, Mycroft has a voracious sexual appetite. Sherlock himself makes a guest appearance, interrupting Mycroft in flagrante delicto with another man’s wife. The young Sherlock demonstrates that he already possesses a keen intellect, though he is rather perturbed by the sight of a beautiful naked woman – during which incident we see the formation of a familiar character trait…
Despite their high levels of intelligence, Mycroft and Sherlock are not above name-calling – “Shitlick”, “Mycrotch” – and are typical brothers in that respect.
As you may have gathered by now, this comic is not for kids, containing as it does a fair amount of sex, gore and coarse language. The creative team set out their stall in the opening pages, during which a small boy admires a nude statue of the Roman goddess Venus (after which the nudity in this issue is mostly implied, until we arrive at a certain crucial moment) and a history teacher comes to an icky end. This scene, which takes place in the British Museum, also establishes a Steampunk aspect of the story, as the damage is done by a strange, apparently clockwise device.
All of this is impressively realised by artist Joshua Cassara (New Avengers), whose kinetic style captures moving objects such as cigar smoke, dog saliva and furniture fragments in freeze-frame detail.
This is a gripping opening instalment, marred only by the occasional anachronism in the dialogue – for example, I was gobsmacked to read the word “gobsmacked”. In all other respects, though, I was gobsmacked in a good way!