A Writer’s Commentary: Leah Moore on Sherlock Holmes: The Vanishing Man #4, out now from Dynamite. If you’re a creator who would like to offer such an insight into their creative process, feel free to get in touch.
This page is intended to be like a slap in the chops with a wet fish. Yes, detective comics are fun, with all the detecting and the details, but sometimes you just need a massive steam engine hurtling toward you with the missing-assumed-dead-clerk on top of it, and Doctor Watson in grave danger. Everybody paying attention now?
Pages Two and Three.
These are the two pages on which the series pivots, so I hope the surprise is a big one for the readers. I tried to make it obvious/not obvious so it would be the big Easter egg of the book. I love May in her element raging at Holmes, and I love her vulnerable as he shows her his discovery. Him kneeling down to her level as the truth finally spills out is my favorite panel.
Pages Four and Five.
Not only are these Watson pages, but he is on board the Necropolis Railway hurtling out of London, so obviously I loved writing them! He’s the best have-a-go hero you could want, never shy to get stuck in to the action, and always handy in a fight. I love all the bad guys in this for their lackluster menace, and I love the setting here, with Watson slugging it out amongst the coffins!
Pages Six and Seven.
Moriarty and Wiggins have had a funny couple of days, haven’t they? Rather an odd pair they make, not least because I’d assumed Wiggins would be dead on the doorstep of Baker Street by issue #2. It’s clear here, I think, that Holmes not rising to Moriarty’s bait has upset him far more than he might think. Holmes hasn’t played his part in the game, and where is the fun in that?
Pages Eight and Nine.
Okay, so I love the crowd in this scene, with the noise and hustle and details of the carriage, but my favorite thing is the exterior of the train, and the way Julius has created not only the look of a fast-moving train carriage but somehow the feel and the sounds and the wind in our hair, and the smoke in our eyes. Watson’s mettle is tested as the goon opens fire, and the panel of him clinging on for dear life in the tunnel is one of my favorite-ever panels.
Pages Ten and Eleven.
This spread is the middle of the issue, so it’s about right that they should give the reader some of the missing bits of the puzzle. It’s a shame that Michael Williams had to fall off the train, though. He seemed like good people.
Pages Twelve to Fifteen
I have a Shell Scott detective novel called “Dig That Crazy Grave” and I’m fairly certain that the yellowed pages of raunchy 50’s pulp are what inspired this scene. If one is to write detective fiction, then it seems a waste not to have that detective involved in some kind of funeral fracas. It also happens to be the key to the entire mystery, but yeah, couldn’t wait for the tombstone fistfight!
Julius’s work has been so consistently amazing throughout that I’ve kind of gotten used to it, which is a lovely problem to have, but his handling of this scene is just superb. Bad day to be a goon.
Pages Sixteen and seventeen.
This is supposed to be Holmes doing his big explainy bit before he brains the goon and we all clap politely, except his scene is stolen by an unexpected person, and page seventeen panel two is actually my favorite panel ever, forget what I said about the Watson panel. Bless his face. he didn’t expect that, did he?
THE END…surely? Except, hang on…
Pages Eighteen and Nineteen.
Didn’t Holmes forget something, or someone maybe? Oh God. This takes the shine off the fistfight in the gothic graveyard, while dressed as a vicar, doesn’t it? Oh no.
Pages Twenty and Twenty One.
Okay, so now Holmes finally FINALLY gets to what he possibly could have worked out in issue #2 if he had made better choices. We see that despite all the costumes and derring do, the paper trails, the murder and intrigue, there is one thing more enjoyable than all that, for Sherlock Holmes, which is The Game.
Page Twenty Two.
TFW you write an entire series about a Very Famous Prestigious Character and accidentally create a character that you would absolutely LOVE to write a whole book of, and only see one panel of that entire world *SOB*