New adventure with the master of mystery: 'Sherlock Holmes'

Posted: May 11, 2009

If there is one element missing from the comics shelves these days, it is a good mystery.

This is interesting considering that the two major properties translated to the big screen this year - "Watchmen" and "Wolverine" - are based on the genre.

With "Watchmen," it's the search for the manipulator behind the scenes; with "Wolverine," it's a journey to rediscover his past.

But in retrospect, the mysteries were unsatisfying. "Watchmen's" mastermind turned out to be the only hero who survived an assassination attempt. Gee, Comics Guy never saw that coming!

As for Wolverine, in the comics and on film, Logan's memories are so muddled and he has been messed with so often that any revelation loses impact because you know it could be exposed as a lie tomorrow.

Additionally, what Comics Guy has been growing weary of is what passes as a mystery in comics these days: Who will be killed? Who's coming back? Who's a Skrull? Who's wearing that costume? Half the time the revelation is done first to get maximum shock value and then the gaps are filled in.

What Comics Guy has longed for is a good, old-fashioned whodunit, like Batman used to relish. Unfortunately, even the Dark Knight Detective - except when written by Paul Dini - does very little mystery-solving anymore, with crafters of his tales seemingly content to have him battle the same dozen or so villains, locking them up, seeing them go free and repeating the cycle.

So what's someone who wants to read stories in which the lead uses his brain more than his fists, guns or superpowers to do?

Enjoy a new adventure of perhaps the greatest sleuth ever created by picking up "Sherlock Holmes" No. 1 from Dynamite.

Though Dynamite has successfully adapted, polished and updated several licensed properties from various genres, "Sherlock Holmes" may have been the hardest to pull off - and they've done fantastically well.

Leah Moore and John Reppion have taken a legendary character and nailed both him and his surroundings. They strike a perfect balance between treating Holmes with the reverence an icon of his stature deserves while also giving him a modern edge.

Artist Aaron Campbell completes the process of pulling us into Holmes' world by imbuing all the characters and their surroundings with a Victorian mood.

The book begins with an explosion that immediately places Holmes and his equally iconic sidekick Dr. Watson on the case. Along the way, they touch on subjects ranging from terrorism to religion to Holmes' already legendary status before the first issue ends on a cliffhanger that throws the normally cool-as-a-cucumber Holmes for a loop.

With a story and dialogue sharp and witty enough to be worthy of one of the world's greatest minds, Dynamite has given the world's most famous detective a fresh voice that should appeal to both old and new fans.

The only real mystery is why this book hasn't received more orders and attention.

You ain't seen nothing yet

With the success of "Star Trek" and the announcement of a 2011 sequel, it is becoming increasingly clear that 2010-2012 will be a Golden Age of comic book and sci-fi movies.

The strong showing of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" makes another Wolvie solo film a virtual certainty in the next three years and, in addition to leading to a "Deadpool" announcement, puts "Magneto" and "X-Men: First Class" films on the fast track for that time frame.

"Sherlock Holmes" is directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Robert Downey Jr. It will open Christmas Day.

"Clash of the Titans" is a remake by "Incredible Hulk" director Louis Leterrier of the camp classic and is due in theaters March 26, 2010.

The long-awaited "Green Lantern" film is being directed by Martin Campbell and set to open Dec. 17, 2010.

"Inception," Christopher Nolan's next film, is due July 16, 2010.

"Jonah Hex" is targeting an Aug. 6, 2010, opening.

Fans looking forward to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" will see Part One open Nov. 19, 2010, and Part Two on July 15, 2011. The second part of "Hallows" has already caused Marvel to move the opening of their "Avengers" film and a couple of others. Seems the Powers That Be didn't want to gamble with putting their most ambitious film in direct competition with the last chapter in what should be, by then, the most successful film franchise of all time. *

E-mail comicsguy@phillynews.com

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