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April 6, 2011

Dark Horse Reviews: The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde #1

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Written by: Mac
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Mr. HydeThe Strange Case of Mr. Hyde #1
Cole Haddon
Artist: M. S. Corely
Colorist: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Dark Horse

It can be wonderful when a comic revisits and reinvents classic tales, but few pull from stories so rich as that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, let alone from the tales of Jack the Ripper. Want to know more? How’s this for a comic synopsis?

Sometimes good police work just isn’t enough, as Inspector Thomas Adye of Scotland Yard finds out when he’s assigned to the Jack the Ripper case. He’ll need the guidance of imprisoned madman and amoral libertine, Dr. Henry Jekyll, whose mind-splitting serum Jack might be using to commit his bloody murders. Written by Cole Haddon and illustrated by M.S. Corley, part 1 of Hyde sets in motion events that will pit London’s two greatest monsters against one another. Will Adye–and his soul–survive intact?

Being a fan of both Jekyll and Hyde as well as Jack the Ripper, there was no way I could resist flinging my arm up into the air grade school style at the chance to read The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde #1. There is so little really known about the actual Jack the Ripper that it is easy to take the character in any given direction. Once I heard his name paired up with that of Mr. Hyde, I sort of had a “d’oh” moment. How did no one think of this before? What a brilliant couple of characters to bring together.

I do have to say, while the concept is interesting, I felt as though the first issue was a smidge slow. Granted, there is time needed to build up the story, and back stories need to be laid out for those not already familiar with them. I was, however, quite pleased at a few of the more obscure references worked into the issue, such as the inclusion of Dr. Moreau and a reference to Spring Heeled Jack. Writer, Cole Haddon, also did a good job of replicating the parlance of the time frame in which the comic is set. It can be difficult to stay true to the proper colloquialisms without alienating readers that are unfamiliar with the speech patterns.

The part I’m most interested in seeing developed is the interaction between Inspector Adye and the incarcerated Dr. Jekyll. There’s almost a Silence of the Lambs vibe to it. Getting the information he is demanding may be more costly to Adye than he thinks. Jekyll doesn’t seem above mind games, and it’s unclear as to whether or not the presence of Hyde is entirely gone.

The art for the book by M.S. Corely is also interesting. There’s sort of a firmness to the outlines that works well with the more muted palette. I honestly can’t imagine this book with any other sort of color scheme.

Now that the story is set, I have a feeling that the next issue will really take off and launch us into some rather interesting territory, and definitely into more gore. This title isn’t out yet, but you can pick up your copy when it launches on April 27th! Also, stay tuned for an interview with series writer, Cole Haddon.

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Mac Beauvais

An advanced PDF of this issue was provided by the publisher for review.