August 14, 2017

Titan Reviews: Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook Collection

Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook Collection
Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer(s): Kareem Abdul – Jabbar & Raymond Obstfeld
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Joshua Cassara & Luis Guerrero

In the various filmed iterations of Sherlock Holmes exploits, the detective’s flawless deductive insight always struck me as a glaringly disingenuous deus ex machina. The audience doesn’t share his cognitive faculty, and is never presented with the entirety of information he ultimately uses to draw his conclusions until long after he’s solved the riddles and set his own plans in motion. It’s a con, derivative and predictable, but in skilled hands one that can be wholly forgiven. Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld have the right hands. They tackle the adventures of Sherlock’s “smarter, cleverer” older brother Mycroft with a wit and panache that renders any such duplicity trivial.

Mycroft is presented as arrogant and abrasive, confident not only in his superiority, but in the deficiency of others and in the separation that divide ensures from any real danger. He is frightfully clever and has little patience for the tiresome minutiae plaguing the common intellects that surround him. Not so apathetic as the portrayal of younger sibling Sherlock, Mycroft’s interactions with “Shirley” bely an enduring and very palpable affection for his brother in spite of their spirited rivalry. He recognizes and respects intellects similar to his own, even if only as marginally more dangerous pawns at his disposal. Physically he is the most capable character on the page, deftly dispatching assailant after assailant.

I feel it really should be harder to root for a character who is always the most advantaged, but the scintillating banter augments what should be a very by-the-numbers story into something greater. Mycroft is the epitome of academic and social privilege, with very dry verve underlying his snide commentary. He is an affable rogue with just enough warmth to garner empathy. It’s a very fine line that is well traversed. Cassara’s art here is just phenomenal, with an impeccably textured richness and a warmth that permeate the panels, making every scene feel tangible. The action is clear and fluid, viscerally executed without breaking the tone or pace. I was consistently impressed by the prolific detail captured on each page and how substantial and lived in the world felt.

The authors take a few cursory jabs at class and racial commentary, and at the flippancy with which governing entities regard the general populace, but the narrative is engineered and executed briskly in favor keeping the tone light and action energetic. Overall, Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook Collection is an enjoyable read with well- defined, likable characters, skillfully devised action and genuinely humorous dialogue. It’s the kind of snappy, action oriented tale I think fans of the Guy Ritchie films would appreciate, though purists may be more discerning. I’ve intentionally left as much detail as possible out of this review to benefit fans of detective fiction who prefer their mysteries unspoiled. Cheers.

Christian Davenport



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