With its Kickstarter campaign reaching the halfway point for the series final two instalments, we get the chance to check out the first three issues of Major Holmes and Captain Watson, Jeff Rider, Ismael Canales and Roger Surroca’s reimagining of the great detective and his physician partner. But with new looks, personalities and even a new time period can this new Holmes and Watson beat the game or is this one case too tough to solve?
Set in pre-war 1914, Major Holmes and Captain Watson tells the story of Sheffield Holmes, Major in his Majesty’s army intelligence and nephew to the famous Sherlock Holmes. When Holmes and his partner, Captain Imogen Watson of the Red Cross, are summoned to the sight of a triple murder, the circumstances turn out to be anything more than simple when they mirror the great detective’s first case, A Study In Scarlet. Now Holmes and Watson must endeavour to determine why these murders occurred as their investigation leads them on a collision course with some familiar names which would like nothing more to stop them permanently.
With Major Holmes and Captain Watson, writer Jeff Rider has crafted an enjoyable and engrossing thriller which uses many of the original Holmes’ lore but gives it a fresh spin. The plot juggles this feel of familiar and different nicely, paying homage to the source material while not outright copying it (certainly not to my recollection anyway). Meanwhile, the characters all feel incredibly well fleshed out, especially the case of Holmes and Watson in particular as their personalities, while mirroring their original counterparts, still feel different. In fact, it is the characters’ connections to the original Holmes which turns out to be one of the most intriguing aspects of the series as all descend from him in some fashion (some of them have a big twist), including the villains.
If there is one flaw this series thus far suffers from, it is an inconsistent pace as the need for regular exposition does have an impact on the flow of its read. Of course, for this reason, I’ve always thought of the crime genre as a difficult needle to thread in comics and so it is a problem that can be easily forgiven (if not ignored outright).
As for the art, Ismael Canales provides this series with crisp, clean pencils which help make it look beautiful. This, coupled with Roger Surroca’s pale, almost muted colours really imbue a very British vibe onto the series, giving it a look reminiscent of the Knight and Squire mini series. Of course, the style is not the only bonus of this art as Canales provides a solid grasp of the action set pieces, with some very fluid sequentials multiple times throughout the series.
Major Holmes and Captain Watson is a truly terrific re-invention of some Britain’s most famous characters as they transition to the comic book. Jeff Rider’s engaging story told through Canales and Surroca’s very traditional looking artwork really is a match which perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the great detective and his partner, the good doctor and is every bit as worth a read as the original stories.