The Trial of Sherlock Holmes #2 (of 5)
Written by Leah Moore and John Reppion
Art by Aaron Campbell
Cover Art by John Cassady
Dynamite Entertainment $3.50 US
The Trial of Sherlock Holmes is a new Holmes tale and a “locked room” mystery that finds Holmes appearing to be the only possible murder suspect in this five issue series published by Dynamite Entertainment. Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue is considered the first locked room mystery and first detective story. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, among other writers, would build on the idea of a shrewd detective with an assistant/narrator as well as the idea of an impossible crime.
It’s a puzzle within a puzzle and lots of fun. Considering it’s been done by some of the best writers around, the bar is set pretty high for the writing team of Leah Moore and John Reppion but they are no strangers to telling a good yarn, particularly a good Victorian one. This is Alan Moore’s daughter and son-in-law and they’ve learned from the legendary storyteller. They’ve been around for awhile now and have gotten some credits under their belts. I suspect this could be their best work yet.
The art of Aaron Campbell picks up nicely from the impressive cover art of John Cassady. It looks like Campbell did his homework and studied the original Holmes illustrations by Sidney Paget and built on that. Campbell’s style also makes me think of the gritty noirish art of Sean Phillips, Ed Brubaker’s partner in crime for a number of books including, Incognito. Interestingly enough, among the many comments of praise on the back of the first issue is a quote from Brubaker: “A fantastic opening shot, literally, to a great new Holmes mystery that I can’t wait to read the next chapter of.”
That opening shot is quite impressive with its steady pacing leading up to a dramatic explosion that sets the plot off and running. It is 1895 and a quarter of London’s East End is in flames after a bomb is detonated. A threatening letter is sent to Sir Samuel Henry, a retired police official, demanding that, unless he remains at his home at precisely seven the next evening, more explosions will follow. Sir Henry requests that Holmes be at his side at that hour. Holmes obliges and subsequently is found in Sir Henry’s room with gun in hand and a dead Sir Henry. Not only that, but it appears that Sir Henry had evidence proving Sherlock Holmes to be the infamous criminal mastermind, Professor Moriarty.
So, here we are into Issue Two and into a devilish mystery. Hats off to colorist Tony Aviña for his deft handling of moody colors and lighting. There is quite a lot of play with light to see as in an engaging scene with Watson struggling over what little clues he has before him bathed in lamp light. Campbell’s bold use of marks across a face or surface in place of more delicate lines adds to the suspense. All well in good for an issue that continues to set the tone for this story.
By the end of this issue, Holmes has escaped from prison and Watson has snuck into the crime scene and found another clue. This last one appears to be a scrap of paper. This could lead back to the threatening letter sent to Sir Henry. Perhaps Sir Henry sent it to himself. Or maybe it was from Mrs. Gammage, the overbearing housekeeper. For now, Holmes is on the loose disguised as an English bobby with only his wits to rely upon. Like Ed Brubaker, I can’t wait to see what happens next.