WATSON AND HOLMES TPB #1: A Study In Black
Written by Karl Bollers
Art by Rick Leonardi, Larry Stroman, Paul Mendoza, GuruEFX, Archie Van Buren & Jay David Ramos
New Paradigm Studios
What starts with a baby found on the street leads to a murder mystery that has Jon Watson sucked into the world of detectives, drugs, snipers and more alongside private investigator Sherlock Holmes. And while this may sound like the normal Sherlock Holmes stories, this is a new take where Holmes and Watson are African American and living in New York City.
What does Medical Intern Jon Watson do as he gets sucked into a case involving drugs, murder and more? Why does Holmes become obsessed with having all the answers? And what happens when what seems to be street drug dealers in New York City get targeted?
I can say with no uncertainty that this book is some of Leonardi’s best work in his entire career. And considering Leonardi has drawn the X-Men in the past, that is saying a whole lot. There is a good amount of detail. The backgrounds and characters are detailed with thicker inks and some darker colors and tones. Yet, it works as the colors are very reminiscent of many of the color techniques used in the Milestone Media books from the 90s … and it works EXTREMELY well for this book. Leonardi pours his all in each page of the main story while Stroman does the same with the epilogue. The panel composition is great with some strong, dynamic panel work that pops out on you.
Leonardi and Stroman do not have any problem showing you the grittiness of New York City but also its beauty as it captures it very well with different panels throughout the entire trade. Overall, this art team blew away with great visuals.
Bollers gives us some solid writing for this new incarnation of Sherlock Holmes. While Holmes retains his sophistication and intellect from the novels, Bollers definitely blends him well within the confines of 21st Century New York City. Bollers makes sure that Holmes and Watson really fit into their roles in New York City through their actions, the way they talk and more. Watson was given added depth by becoming a newly single father and does a great job of updating his military history to reflect recent events.
There were a lot of characters that the duo meet but Bollers does a good job of making the two the driving force of the book while making the other characters they meet along the way interesting; such as Watson’s soon to be ex wife, the drug dealing Junior or, my personal favorite, Holmes’ brother, “Mike.”
Bollers does a great job of providing great dialogue, good motivations and strong characterizations of people throughout the story. Each chapter felt like an episode of a 40 minute tv show more than a comic but it really works here. The dialogue was very real and I do like that there was a resolution but enough plot threads left over to do more with it. The pacing for the book was exquisite. And there is a real authenticity for this murder/mystery urban drama that just shines through as you read. Bollers is proving himself a master with this first trade.
This book left a strong impression. Great story. Beautiful, strong all. Rich colors. It really sucks you into the atmosphere and characters. This is a book you definitely don’t want to sleep on. Definitely one of the best comics I have read all year.
I give Watson and Holmes: A Study In Black trade paperback a 10 Out of 10! READ IT NOW!!