So, you think you know the world’s only consulting detective? Sylvain Corduri’s tale is a far cry away from the Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, but every bit as fun, gripping and inherently Holmesian.
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE VAMPIRES OF LONDON HC
Writer: Sylvain Cordurié
Colorist: Axel Gonzalbo
Translated by: LUMAX Studios
Publisher: Dark Horse
Cover Price: $17.99
THE GAME IS ON … AND UNDEAD
If you haven’t been watching closely Sherlock Holmes died. He fell off a waterfall. That’s pretty dead. This book takes place during the great-hiatus-post-Moriarty time in the Sherlock Holmes canon. The great detective finds himself in Paris where he meets up with his brother Mycroft for a surprisingly pleasent evening until they are return to Sherlock’s lodgings and are promptly assaulted by vampires! Bear with it – they are not the sparkly-sparkly brand of vampire, rather the monstery-monstery, scary-scary. Of course, this facilitates Sherlock’s premature return to London where he meets Mrs. Riddles (an undead double of The Woman: Irene Adler), whose job is to not only keep the asexual detective intrigued, but ensure that he fulfills the agreement he has made with her boss: Selymes.
Selymes is the most demon-looking vampire and father of his clan with direct ties to the queen of England. One of the vampires he sired (a man named Owen Chanes), has been gallavanting about London killing the upper most echelon of English society. Holmes, with his extensive deductive abilities, mastery of disguise, experience with a variety of drugs and familiarity with the underground makes him the ideal man for the job. With Doctor Watson and his new wife Mary as leverage Holmes is on board until he learns of a past connection he himself has with the bloodlust-driven Chanes.
The parallel between not-actually-dead-Sherlock and a caste of vampires is fun, but the real joy is in Sylvain Cordurié’s storytelling. The adventure is narrated from Holmes’ perspective in a letter to Watson and is essentially Conan Doyle light. It harks back to the original canon without being bogged down by Victorian adjectives and complicated sub-clauses or predicates. Cordurié (and, likely, whoever translated this book into English from it’s original French), has updated Doyle’s style deftly for the comic book medium and, supernatural elements aside, Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London reads very much like a lost tale from the Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London HC also wins beaucoup bonus points for not having the clunky quality that many translated works often do.
RETRO FLARE TO THE ART
Laci presents a Jeremy Brett-esque Holmes and the world of Victorian London in sleek lines that are reminiscent of EC comics that, when married with Axel Gonzalbo’s dark, earthtone colour palatte make what we see on the page ring true to the collective consciousness expectation of turn-of-the-century England (and France, briefly). When the iconic flat in 221b Baker Street is visited it has all the classic elements and even seems a little bit sad for not having been occupied by the dective and the doctor for some three months. As previously mentioned, the vampires – Selymes and Chanes, specifically – are scary! They are mutton-chopped, in keeping with period aesthetic, and when about to attack or feed they explode into something very reminiscent of Man-Bat.When the creatures of the night are confronted with fire and buildings explode the panels jump off the page they are so bright – which is often times as startling as the vampires themselves. Everything from the character designs to settings to colours serve the story being told. The art is dynamic and, simply, a delight to behold.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOLMES
Full disclosure: I’m a gigantic Sherlock Holmes fan. I like vampires. I like comic books. That being said, I often don’t like supernatural elements in my Sherlock Holmes. Dark Horse has done something very magical by picking up this French book and presenting it to an Anglo audience – they’ve given us a world where magic and the great detective work together. If you are a Sherlockian to any extent absolutely pick up Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London HC. If you like vampire stories pick it up. If you like good comic book pick it up. Especially with a hard cover, this story is more than worth the cover price.