May 3, 2013

[Comic Review] Watson + Holmes: Issue 3 (by Paradigm Studios)

When I first reviewed the new comic series "Watson + Holmes" put out by Paradigm Studios, I mentioned that I had a few problems with the series, namely that you had these legendary detectives fighting common street criminals.  I felt it was a waste of the intellect and skills.   After having read a review copy of issue number 3, I'm glad to see my problems with the first two issues have pretty much been done away with, as the storyline has progressed.  Initially I was concerned that an historical character such as Sherlock Holmes was being wasted on street level crime and just general thugs and whatnot.  However it is revealed that the higher up the chain we go, the more vicious and dangerous the people, and that they have a tenuous connection to the good Doctor Watson from his time in Afghanistan.

There's still, however, this sense of Sherlock being what, in my mind, is almost an idiot savant, although that could be my own biases at play there.  He's a clearly brilliant man with incredible deductive reasoning skills.  And yet he has this seeming lack of social skills where he's almost completely void of any sense of pop culture. In the first two issues there's a scene where he throws out a reference to the Harlem dance "Chicken Noodle Soup", and I commented that I felt that it would have been more appropriate to have referenced "The Harlem Shake" if you're going to mention a Harlem centric dance craze, considering how popular it is now, and that the Chicken Noodle Soup hasn't been popular for years.


Likewise, in the newest issue, when the character doesn't know who Nino Brown is and had never seen nor heard of the film New Jack City, I almost wanted to call bullshit and scream "how DARE you sir?"  Then I have to calm down and tell myself that not everyone is a movie freak like I am.  I do tend to be like Keegan-Michael Key's character on Key & Peele where he finds out his friend hasn't seen Roots, and he starts spazzing out and falls on the floor in mock exasperation.

I was very interested, and remain interested in Dr. Watson's backstory of his time in Afghanistan.  That is very intriguing to me, even more so that Sherlock's.   I've never really read a lot of the Sherlock Holmes stories in the past and only have a general knowledge of them, so I don't know how much of the characters here are similar or different than the literary giants' original story lines.  And right now there's some literary nerd out there (much like my own movie nerd) who's screaming at the computer screen, "how have you not read Sherlock Holmes???"

One thing I just sort of noticed, while reading this review copy, is that this is a very wordy comic.  While I can read an issue of The Walking Dead in 8 minutes (I've timed myself) without even rushing, with this it's a different situation.  There's more words than your average comic.  I almost feel like there's two issues of story in each issue, maximizing your value here.  And considering the books are only 99 cents, that's gotta make this one of the best values in comics today.

The book is not a breezy read.  It's not something you just decide to read because you have five or ten minutes to kill.  I enjoy this book because it's a "grown folks" comic book, for lack of a better phrase.  And I appreciate that.  It's nice to have comics that don't dumb things down or explain everything to you right up front and make you actually wait and be patient.  As anyone who read my previous review can attest, that's not always my strong suit.  As I said in the intro to this, most of my issues that I had a problem with have been alleviated, and my other main issue (why put the African American Sherlock Holmes + John Watson in Harlem of all places) could simply be my own kneejerk reaction.  I do tend to be a bit oversensitive to issues dealing with race and stereotypes, whether it's warranted or not.  Not a great thing to admit, I suppose, but it's the truth.

All in all this continues to be shaping up to be a fantastic run of comics, one I am looking forward to seeing through to the end.

If you enjoy the comic series, consider going over to the Kickstarter page for the guys putting this out.  They're seeking to put out a print edition, and there's all sorts of cool perks available.   There's only 4 days remaining and while they have their goal met, they now have introduced some amazing stretch goal perks, including having your own character be a hero or a villain in the book.  How cool is that?

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