I’ll admit that I’m not a Sherlockian or a crime mystery enthusiast. However, I wanted to check out works by Black creators. Watson & Holmes Volume One makes for a decent afternoon read. The famous characters and situations are done from a Black American point of view. This collection of five issues is set in Harlem, New York. The main characters are distinctly “urban,” with the inquisitive S. Holmes sporting dreads and being the go-to “consultant” when the police are the last resort.
There are two mysteries: someone is kidnapping infants and taking them into dumpsters and there’s a series of targeted killings. The most striking image is the first story page where the panels zoom out to show a baby barely standing out amidst garbage bags.
Of course, Holmes is an eccentric who enjoys his independence and Watson served in the Army. They risk their lives as they become more entangled in messy business. However, this dynamic duo complement each other at the expense of Watson’s relationship with his wife and son. Seeing the two right wrongs is satisfying, but it’s a pity that Watson doesn’t keep his personal life straight.
I have a few quibbles. The “big bad” has laughable motivations and is clearly no match for Holmes. Also, there are several typos in the first issue. I realize the need to keep things PG-13, but there are so many grawlixes that it’s distracting. In some panels, Leonardi’s inking his characters is so heavy that they look like they’re smudged in dirt instead of being shadowed.
Watson & Holmes came about via Kickstarter campaign. Its success ensured there’s an audience for a gritty, American take on the famous sleuth. The creative team of Karl Bollers and Rick Leonardi concocted enjoyable detective stories with a serving of personality. Volume One keeps me interested in the ongoing series. I’ll be on the lookout when the second volume comes out. Gotta bounce.
Watson & Holmes: A Study in Black is written by Karl Bollers, drawn by Rick Leonardi (issues #1-4) and Larry Stroman (issue #5). Published by New Paradigm Studios.