Kareem Abdul-Jabbar brings his take to Mycroft Holmes, brother to the world’s greatest detective, in Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook. Is it good?
Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook #1 (Titan Comics)
Set in the same world as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s novel Mycroft Holmes (where he partnered with writer Anna Waterhouse), Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalpyse Handbook #1 sees Abdul-Jabbar joined by co-writer Obstfeld as the brother of the most famous detective finds himself set on his own adventure. Thanks to the way the story builds up, neither Abdul-Jabbar’s novel nor Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories are required reading, allowing anyone to hop right into the story.
Introduced in a philosophy class at Cambridge University, Abdul-Jabbar’s Mycroft is a rogue, charming his way out of danger, and seemingly never worried, even as his home is broken into. The script by Abdul-Jabbar and Obstfeld does a great job capturing Mycroft’s nonchalance and humor. In particular, an exchange between Mycroft and his brother Sherlock demonstrates the quick but crude wit one might expect from two brothers of such contrasting personalities. This humor extends to the overall script as well, including an origin for Sherlock’s “Elementary.” Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook #1 is able to maintain this energy throughout its entirety, making for an entertaining read.
However all the pep in the script could be ruined by art of lesser quality. Fortunately, artist Joshua Cassara is more than up for the challenge. Oftentimes, a comic will trend to having dialogue heavy scenes or action based on the strengths and weaknesses of the artist, but Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook #1 is able to deliver both thanks to Cassara’s talents. The linework is rich with detail and the scenes are lively, whether in a classroom, a sultry bedroom, or in the clutches of evil. There’s a light steampunk aesthetic working its way throughout the issue–never overwhelming, but offering a flair of science fiction to the story.
Colorist Luis Guerrero does a great job varying the mood throughout the story with his palette choices. The issue largely takes place over a single night in dimly lit areas, but Guerrero is able to make each moment stand visually apart from the rest. For example, as Mycroft beds his professor’s wife, their bodies are colored more brightly than the surrounding bedroom, giving the scene a warmer feel even as the blues and grays maintain the stormy setting. Later as the story’s villain enters the fray, the backgrounds are given a dramatic red to highlight the violence without turning to gore.
Is It Good?
Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook #1 is a stellar debut. Those questioning Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for entering into the medium will find themselves pleasantly surprised at the work here. While this comic firmly belongs in the world of his novel, it doesn’t alienate the reader who stumbles upon it and offers a great take on a oft-overlooked character in the Sherlock Holmes mythos. With great artwork by Joshua Cassara and Luis Guerrero, readers should definitely check out this comic.