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Monday, November 8, 2010

Mr. Holmes & Dr. Watson. Their Strangest Cases. Mark Ellis (Editor). Transfuzion Publishing (2010)

This volume reprints newspaper strips that ran for a short period in the 1950s, and which were written and illustrated by Edith Meiser, Gil Kane, Mike Sekowsky, Frank Giacoia, carefully reconstructed by Melissa Martin-Ellis. There are two original stories and two adaptations in the volume, the two original stories are by far the better. The adaptation of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" is frankly terrible, its sole value is as a curiosity.
The first story "The Adventure of the Thumbless Man" is a first rate adventure. The murder at the docks of the newly appointed Governor of Jamaica leads Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson on to smuggling,piracy and very great danger. The art is lovely, the context is drawn with skill and care and the story has strength and grip. Sherlock Holmes shows his full range in the story.
The second story "Black Kill's Ghost" is even better, it has Sherlock Holmes battling against the vengeful ghost of a pirate. The story is full throttle melodrama and benefits hugely from it. It has all the elements of a Victorian pot boiler, a dispute over a house, a damsel in distress, a bloodthirsty ancestor come back to seek revenge and best of all the observant, scientific Mr Sherlock Holmes. Great pacing and striking art give the story additional punch.
The third story, an adaptation of "The Sussex Vampire", suffers from trying to be too faithful to the original, a greater willingness to reshape the story would have been better. Still the art is very nice.
The first two stories are more than enough reason to get this book, along with the informative essays by Martin Ellis. They may not be the strangest adventures, they are exciting and gripping ones done with care and energy. A pleasure.

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