The Dark Detective: Sherlock Holmes Issue 2 - Verdict of Horror (2009)

Only he could stop the shadows from swallowing London. And only his single remaining friend could stop the shadows from swallowing him.

Editor Baden Kirgan
Publisher Black House Comics
Writer Christopher Sequeria
Layouts J Scherpenhuizen
Art and Colours Phil Cornell
Cover Dave Elsey
Genre Gothic
Country

Talk us through it

An autopsy on Davey Ellis, whose mutilated corpse was found at Chisley House supposedly a victim of the mythical chimera, finds that the murder was caused by person, persons, or agency unknown. Judge Chisley meanwhile has had Inspector MacDonald and hence Holmes removed from the case.

Undeterred Holmes visits Davey's brother Freddy in H.M.Prison Wandsworth and discovers Freddy is well aware of a criminal firm expanding at a rapid rate. This of course fuels the detective's theory of a criminal conspiracy growing in London. Holmes gains Freddy as a client so can continue his investigation of the case.

Through the services of his brother Mycroft, a senior civil servant at the Royal Information Portfolio, Holmes learns the history of the Lodge of Bellerophon and deduces London may be in the grip of rival evil organisations fighting a turf war.

And if that isn't enough Holmes and Judge Chisley discover in a fatal fashion that the chimera may not be so mythical after all!

Review

"The knowledge an Evil Network is out there, growing, plagues me!" - Sherlock Holmes

Issue two of The Dark Detective continues immediately after events in the first issue. Readers should note that they are going to have to read the issues chronologically as we are no where near solving the case Holmes is currently investigating. As the saying goes, "the plot thickens". I'm actually pretty cool with this development as I would rather get an intense prolonged read than find everything is sorted out in a couple of issues. Given the preview I received from Black House for issue three things are apt to get a hell of a lot more complex as well, without giving things away think Mary Shelley. If you don't know who Mary was then I simply have to wonder what they teach kids at school in the modern era. Anywise thanks to Baden Kirgan, preview much appreciated.

Writer Christopher Sequeria sure is jamming a lot of plot into each issue. My outline above barely scratches the surface and leaves out whole chucks of background information and subplots that Sequeria has happening. It's an intense and enjoyable read folks, this isn't one of those comics you can quickly skim through and then discard, you will need to re-read sections to keep up with Holmes and Watson. Sequeria captures the mood of the era that The Dark Detective is set in but does not make it hard for a modern reader to decipher what is being said. Remembering the whole plot is conveyed through either character conversations or via excerpts from Dr Watson's diary. I noted down the word "quaint" in terms of the mode of speech and from what I can see it remains historically accurate. That's quite the achievement given Sequeria must have at times lapsed into modern speech patterns. Full marks to either the Writer for catching lapses between drafts or for Editor Baden Kirgan picking them up in the final draft. In the wash up we have an intense, multi layered, and totally believable plot to entertain and delight us. Black House can keep these comics coming at me, I'm hooked after two issues.

I do have one bone to pick with Christopher Sequeria however, that cliff hanger ending has me phoning my newsagent every second day to find out if the third issue has been released yet. Sequeria must be contravening various U.N guidelines with this sort of thing, talk about keeping your readership on their toes.

Before moving on from the writing in issue two a final note for my horror readership. Folks Sequeria isn't leaving us lamenting dialling into a crime comic he's throwing some of that good stuff in our direction as well, the chimera may be a reality and it certainly makes most werewolf attacks look like a small dog humping someone's leg. There will be blood, oh yes, there will be blood.

Dave Elsey once again turned in an excellent and evocative cover that lifts The Dark Detective up to the realms of art on it's own. Elsey's work has this surreal gothic quality about it that is hard to describe adequately. It certainly adds a wow factor that had me immediately after reading putting each issue into it's own plastic sleeve. Once the general public gets word of The Dark Detective the comic is going to become a collectors item, with Dave Elsey's cover artwork having no small measure of ensuring that status.

The interior artwork, that would be the actual panels, is not letting the home team down either truth be told. I noted a far more sepia orientation in issue two than in issue one, but this could be down to me being engrossed by the storyline and not paying enough attention to details. I'm loving the character realisations, Holmes is identifiably Holmes in each panel, Watson is identifiably Watson, and so forth. I guess if I had to make a call, and remembering I'm not an art critic by any stretch of the imagination, I would call the panel artwork "na´ve". That's not a criticism by the way, "na´ve" is a style of artwork that many of the great artists, Picasso, Rembrandt, et al, employed from time to time. I could be wrong of course, art history isn't in my education portfolio, just trying to get the look and feel across to you.

Summary Execution ...

Verdict of Horror continued the great work started in issue one The Claws of the Chimera, and finds me firmly fixated on the The Dark Detective series. I've never really been a comic book fan before, beyond reading any horror comic I came across and the odd superhero one, but guess after the second issue am falling into that category. Does this mean I have to put on lots of weight like the comic book guy out of The Simpsons? Another excellent issue, have committed to ordering the comic in at my local newsagent, I really can't say any more than that. Actually thinking I might get two copies of each issue, one to read and one to put away in my nifty new comic folder thing in order to keep it in pristine condition.

I mentioned that if you can't find a copy of the comic then tell your newsagent to order it in or contact Black House via the website direct last review right? A few readers seem not to have read that bit of advise. Without too many details, I'll supply them in coming reviews of The Dark Detective, Black House has a couple more projects rolling toward the end of the year that look like they will have me scrambling to get my hands on them. More on that as details come to hand, looking at you Baden. To whet readers appetites for destruction, post apocalyptic zombie action!

Probably don't need to give this one my recommendation, you knew that was coming right, it's simply a superb publication that you must get. Given the price is $5 AUD that's not going to break the bank and is about what you would pay for a schooner of beer in a Sydney pub. The games afoot, time to get involved to avoid future disappointment.

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

To hell with it, top marks for plot and artwork, one of the best comics on the market currently.