The Dark Detective: Sherlock Holmes Issue 4 (2010)

Editor Baden Kirgan
Publisher Black House Comics
Writers Christopher Sequeria
Art and Colours Phil Cornell
Genre Gothic

Talk us through it

Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's rather portly brother, works for The Royal Information Portfolio (RIP) a sort of early version of the FBI's X-Files or Torchwood. The RIP covers strange occurrences and things that go bump in the night that may affect the normal day to day running of the Empire.

We get three independent stories of the macabre from the RIP's files, the final story involving Mycroft himself.

Settle in we're going undercover ... so it's early morning as I write this!


"This man is dead flesh walking. Let's finish him, for I crave a morsel or two." - Lilith

The first three issues of The Dark Detective concerned themselves with Holmes and Watson investigating events behind the mysterious Lodge of Bellerophon. Not all story arcs were completed at the conclusion of Issue Three but we did get a resolution on the main reason for the debonair detectives' involvement. Mycroft was introduced in Issue Two as Holmes' brother with some leverage in Government circles, he managed to get Holmes released from prison in fact. Issue four of The Dark Detective sees a departure from the well travelled roads of Victorian Police work and into the hinterland of Mycroft's world, a fair more shady and clandestine place. So how does an issue of The Dark Detective without the actual Dark Detective himself stack up in the penny dreadful stakes?

As stated we get three completely separate stories from the RIP files, a far more interesting collection than Fox or Dana could hope to stumble upon. In the first story we get the Victorian equivalent of the X-File's duo, assuming of course that Dana Scully can be compared to a ghoul. Inspector Bernard Blackmore and his assistant Lilith investigate murder most foul in residential London and find there's a real underworld answer to the crime. An excellent first up story, Lilith was a hoot, and we learn Blackmore had been discredited previously to his current position with Confidential Branch. There's clearly a story to be told there and I'm really hoping for future Blackmore adventures, maybe a spin off comic? - as long as those adventures don't interfere with Holmes and Watson of course.

Our second story see's Journalist Harold Harker, and the assumption is that Harold's brother is a more renowned member of the Harker clan, investigating an apparent Vampire rampaging through the byways of London. There's a real twist in the tale coming at you here, and to a certain extent the story can be viewed as something of a shaggy dog entry. We close out with the third story involving Mycroft himself immersed in the schemes of Dr Nikola and a purloined formula. Actually the third story could have done with being fleshed out some more, but that might have just been me wanting slightly more content as it's going to be a wait for the fifth issue of this excellent comic.

Overall the three stories contained in the issue are original, well written, and provide something of a respite from the further adventures of Holmes and Watson. Not that I'm going to be complaining when Blackhouse return to the scene of the crime as it were with the ongoing investigations of the Victorian sleuths. Count Issue Four then as an interlude between major Sherlock Holmes adventures, but I did dig on the format and the idea that we are being given access to the RIP's secret files. Hopefully there's more of the same coming later in the year. Did I mention a spin off featuring Blackmore and Lilith? Maybe a graphic novel might be the order of the day? Maybe we are getting too demanding as a readership?

As one would expect from The Dark Detective the artwork is superb, the writing is easy to read, and the look and feel is all olde world Victorian. You could honest believe this comic was published in the same era that story events are set. Missing this time round are the groovy advertisements on the final page that were distinctive to the comic through Issues one to three. I actually quite missed those, but then I'm a comic book geek and have read other comics with the sort of advertisement that The Dark Detective is parodying. The Dark Detective has a very unique artistic style, fingers crossed that's maintained in future issues as it surely does making reading the comic a pleasure.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and state that Dave Elsey's cover for Issue Four is his best yet, it's simply maniac and captures the slightly left field vision of the first story. The comic is worth buying for the cover artwork alone so you really are getting value for money. Blackhouse should start thinking about tees with the cover artwork on them, though I think I made the exact same comment in the review of Issue three. Clearly there's a dead equine in the road and I'm looking for a fence palling.

As an example of what can be done with the gothic, both in look and plot line, The Dark Detective is at the forefront showing the oldest of horror genres hasn't lost its impact or ability to delight the consumer. Issue Four continues the excellent work and maybe even lifts the pole slightly for future issues.

Summary Execution ...

Issue four of The Dark Detective once again had me braying at the moon, had me excited to get my hands on the issue, and hit all the right notes. I get slightly excited when a new Issue is announced and thus far have not been disappointed when I finally got my hands on each Issue. A slight departure from the first three Issues, number four still pushed all my buttons and has me joneysing for issue Five.

I'm starting to get my Dark Detective groove train on in terms of where to purchase. Okay my local news agent is a complete bust, but I'm hitting a news agent under the MLC centre in Sydney or simply going online to ensure I'm not missing out. On the subject of purchase, you can still score all four Issues of the comic from Blackhouse's online store. Congratulations to Braden Kirgan for making every post a winner with the online purchase option.

Issue Four of the comic presents an opportunity for those out there who haven't got their Dark Detective thing happening to join all the cool kids in rocking out to Darkhouse's sensational gothic series. For those of us who have been along for the ride since Issue One, it's a chance to further explore the world Holmes, Watson, and Mycroft operate in. This comic is simply a requirement for anyone who calls themself a fan of the dark genre Down Under and should be on automatic order. Ah Blackhouse you have done it again!

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

Hopefully the start of a wonderful relationship with Mycroft, Blackmore, and Lilith.