A man goes missing on the way home from his job. The man’s wife, looking for any help possible, goes to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. Lucky for her, Holmes was bored and looking for a good case. Holmes and Watson begin their investigation into the case of the Vanishing Man. Little do they know that other shadowy forces are also invested in this case.
In terms of capturing a classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes tale, this comic’s success is a mixed bag. While elements of the story are reminiscent of the old tales, the pacing is generally quicker, and it focuses more on the detriments of his substance addiction.
Coincidentally, those changes to the formula are good things. This format wants a faster pacing that doesn’t linger on scenes for too long. Plus, the weaknesses associated with a substance abuse like that Holmes adds depth and humanity to the character. That last part is especially important here, because we’re living in the era of “man, Sherlock was actually a bit of a dick,” to which this comic adheres.
The mystery itself isn’t the most interesting. It’s a missing person’s case with some red herring details thrown in to complicate matters. That said, the remainder of the series could add some intrigue, and the overall relative banality of the case itself isn’t a mortal flaw.
What is slightly more bothersome is that the narrative doesn’t go anywhere new with the Holmes formula and setting. While the comic is enjoyable, you can find its version of Holmes elsewhere in places as ubiquitous as PBS’s Sherlock.
The art is more sleek and kinetic than what most are likely expecting from a Sherlock comic. There is a noticeable anime influence especially regarding how Holmes himself is depicted. That said, Julius Ohta brings a unique touch to an old universe here, and the visuals do look good. Ellie Wright’s color art is also quite good, capturing the grunge and grime of turn-of-the-century London.
Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man is solidly written and executed opening issue to a new Sherlock Holmes comic miniseries. The pacing is quick, the visuals are good, and the overall comic is a more fun yet grounded take on the detective. Its version of Sherlock isn’t fresh, but it is entertaining. As such, this one gets a recommendation. Feel free to check it out.
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