Review: Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London / Author: Sylvain Cordurie / Artist: Laci / Publisher: Dark Horse / Release Date: February 11th
Given the recent rise in interest in all things Sherlock, it should come as no surprise that a graphic novel called Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London should come along. The book does exactly what it says on the tin, putting 221b’s finest against blood-sucking monsters. When the Master Vampire of London comes to Holmes looking for assistance in catching and destroying a vampire killing relatives of Queen Victoria, you know that it’s going to be the sort of adventure that keeps on piling on the absurdity until the reader has a big grin on their face.
The Reichenbach Falls is an interesting part of the Sherlock Holmes mythos, because it creates a sizeable gap in the chronology of the Holmes adventures that allows all sorts of nonsense to be slotted in by modern writers. This is the trick that Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London pulls at the very beginning, neatly ditching Doctor Watson and allowing the good detective to get on with the important work of chinning the undead. This does make the narrative a little problematic at times; without Watson, Holmes has no one to show off to. This means that all the cleverness comes from various reveals throughout, with the result that the characterisation is a little bit stilted. Given that Holmes is such a well-known character however, this hardly matters. It also means that this graphic novel is quite explicit with its violence. Nothing overly gross, just lots of things getting killed or exploding ,which lends the book more of a Hammer Horror vibe than perhaps intended.
The art is firmly in the European comic book style, highly detailed and realistic-looking, with exaggeration only applied to add to the impact. Laci does seem to only draw one expression for Holmes throughout the story (that of vague disgust) but that works for the tale. A shame though that the colour palette is slightly overly grubby – yes, this is a Victorian adventure, but that’s no excuse for making every single panel brown. Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London is an atmospheric and quick little tale. The main characters are dealt with appropriately and with respect and though the addition of the supernatural seems a little odd at first, the way that Holmes takes it all in his stride seems entirely fitting and works well. Overall, this is a fun book and if you fancy a bit of supernatural Victorian detective adventure then this will do quite nicely.