Book Retort: Mycroft Holmes #5

Written by John Wayne Enfield


Many have called Sherlock Holmes, including his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, one of the most brilliant minds ever introduced in fiction.  In powers of deduction and reasoning, he is only exceeded by his brother, Mycroft Holmes.  While Sherlock is frequently given new cases or is ‘reimagined’ in all forms of media, Myroft rarely gets the spotlight.  One of the few creative teams to do so are none other than NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Raymond Obstfeld, Joshua Cassara, Luis Guerrero and Simon Bowland.

In this five-part adventure, we find Mycroft in a prequel to the Sherlock Holmes stories set in the 1890’s.  This story is set in 1874 and the artists do a decent job of making the backgrounds, costumes, and even the title text style evoke that time.  Occasionally, Mycroft’s genius is allowed to peer through the fog of dialog and characters’ behavior that is otherwise so incongruous to the setting that it nearly ruins the effect of the art.  Like his younger brother, Mycroft is in this story, not immune to being fooled by a pretty face. Not once, but twice in this case. Having him teaming up with infamous con artist Irene Adler, is poor judgement on his part and rather unbelievable for readers of ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’.

The best part of issue five is the teams’ take on the enduring mystery of why Sherlock started his detective career.  It is a somewhat convincing idea showing Sherlock’s willingness to risk his health in his experimental approach to crime solving and his single-minded obsessive nature.  It also illustrates a way that Mycroft and Sherlock are different: Mycroft sometimes takes things at face value, while Sherlock questions everything.

The very name ‘Holmes’ conjures up the idea of a brilliant mystery in a realistic Victorian era. Unfortunately, that is not what we have here.  Once the flashback to the Holmes children’s past is over, ‘The Apocalypse Handbook’ veers over to the steampunk genre having more in common with the works of Jules Verne.  The danger they save the world from here is simply too far-fetched.

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