Monday, June 24, 2013

Watson and Holmes #3 Review Or Where Brooklyn At?


Last August, a small indie comic book publisher named New Paradigm Studios launched a modern retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series. Besides being in the current era, there was another noticeable difference in the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Jo(h)n Watson-- they're African-American. So this week I picked up a copy of the third issue (as I have been a fan for some time now) and hoped that the newest mystery afoot would add to the larger mosaic of the story.


This issue opens where last issue left off. Watson and Holmes have just left Holmes’ apartment after seeing a banker murdered in front of them via web cam, and now our heroes must find the next target spelled out on a hit list of names. But before the two can start their search, they head over to a posh club in Manhattan where they converse with Holmes’ brother Mycroft, aka ‘Mike', and find out that the third name on the list is an alias. After speaking with Mike, Watson gains a bit of insight on his partner’s past and motivations, and begins to question his own reasons for joining Holmes on his crusade. The duo get a lead on the assassins and find out that the next target is a pastor who has recently been dealing in more than just saving souls, but before they can look for him they head back to the hospital to check on a patient injured last issue. While making the rounds, the group of killers gunning for the pastor pays Watson a visit and gets his name when one of his co-workers calls it out. After a narrow escape, W&H travel to Brooklyn to find the marked pastor and have a shoot out on the roof of a building in the Bushwick section while trying to save his life.


Writer Karl Bollers keeps expanding the mystery as we move into this issue and, as expected, it's a slow burn. However, that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable as we do learn a bit more about our mystery-solving hero and his life-saving partner, and you gotta love New Jack City references. One thing I can say about this comic, is how much Watson's point of view helps the storytelling mechanics. There are things that Holmes does in this issue and throughout the series that we only catch glimpses of, however these things prove important when they're later explained. Bollers does this while not making it seem off the page.



Rick Leonardi continues to wonderfully illustrate this tale of modern mystery. His pencils give a gritty and sometimes grim image of modern-day New York City from the perspective of African-Americans. The emotional weight on the faces of the characters is as tangible and real as those I see everyday. Paul Mendoza's coloring makes me miss Milestone Media, with his ability to fade color from far away and enriching it while close up with out making it an issue.

The Real

I love that this series and others like it exist. I feel the industry was long over due for an alternative to Luke Cage as far as black characters go. However, I cannot help but feel like this series may suffer from its own premise…and that is the length of the mystery with little action in between. This series feels like it would work better in either graphic novel format or a monthly series to keep people interested. That in no way means that the series is bad, quite the contrary, but comic books are and have been an action medium for a long time. Most fans are used to instant gratification and power fantasies, which is an unfortunate side effect of a medium dominated by superheroes. Now I don't recommend either character suddenly gaining superpowers, however I feel like this incarnation of Watson should use some of his military fighting skill in more situations, just to dial the action up a notch. Overall this is a great series that I'd recommend for fans of Snyder's Batman, Bendis' Daredevil and, of course, the Doyle classics. You can find Watson and Holmes on or for download or print copies. Rating 4/5


bperlow said...

This story will be completed in issue 4. We will have one-shots with more brisk stories. More Watson goodness too.

Brandon Perlow

Publisher- New Paradigm Studios

Winston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Winston said...

Excellent... love it.

Ayo said...

i like your reviews on watson and holmes,i miss milestone too, a lot keep up the good work