Month of African-American Comics – Watson and Holmes: A Study in Black
All this month I’ll be reviewing different comic books by African-American creators, based on submissions from the actual creators of the comic books themselves. A quick note – since this month is so relatively short, I’ll be featuring an extra comic every week, for a total of 32 comics spotlighted! Here is a list of all the comics spotlighted so far!
In this installment we take a look at Watson and Holmes: A study in Black, collecting the first five issues of the Watson and Holmes comic book series, created by Brandon Perlow and Paul Mendoza, written by Karl Bollers, drawn by Rick Leonardi (#1-4) and Larry Stroman (#5) and a variety of colorists.
Not to take anything away from Watson and Holmes, which is a good comic book, but besides the punderful re-envisionment of Inspector Lestrade as a woman (named Lesley Stroud), this is a fairly straightforward adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes mythos into modern times and an all-African-American main cast. You see them take a lot of the same approaches that the BBC version of Sherlock (also a modern take on the concept) has taken, particularly the update of John Watson’s military service to modern-day Afhganaistan (it fits SO perfectly!). Like Sherlock, Watson and Holmes opens with a loose adaptation of the first Sherlock Holmes noel, A Study in Scarlett.
I suppose the aspect that really makes these characters stand out (more so than their skin color) is that in this story, Watson is a far more imposing figure than most other adaptations. He is more of a lead character than a supporting one in this series. This is likely why the book is specifically titled as it is.
Rick Leonardi has always been an artist that I like to see and his work on this series is no exception. He is good for the talking scenes (which inherently have to happen when you’re dealing with a guy solving mysteries). But when the comic needs action, he NAILS it, as well. Check out this awesome two-page spread from #2…
In the end, this is a well thought out comic book that does a fine job of updating the Sherlock Holmes mythos into modern Harlem. Here is a snippet from #3, where we meet Mycroft Holmes…
The first storyline ends a bit oddly, by the way, as I was surprised by how open-ended it was. #5 brings in Larry Stroman for a one-off story dealing with the kidnapping of infants that ties in with what drove Watson to teaming up with Holmes in the first issue.
Be sure to check out New Paradigm Studios’ website here for more info (including where to buy copies of the series).