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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Sherlock Holmes 1 - Sherlock Holmes begins, and ends

Walt Simonson does the cover for Sherlock Holmes 1 (Sept/Oct 75), DC's exceptionally brief foray into stories adapted from the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Denny O'Neil and Eufronio Cruz deliver two linked stories in the issue. Despite their brevity, the tales do a very good job of capturing the character and his adventures.

The first story is adapted from The Final Problem, the tale in which Holmes faces his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, and both perish. The story opens with Holmes fending off an attempt to kill him.

He returns to his lodgings, where Doctor Watson sits around being befuddled, and receives a visitor. The man claims to be a law clerk and have a case for Holmes, but the detective spots clues that he is a phony, another man out to kill him, and disposes of him.

Holmes explains his deductions to Watson, and tells him about Moriarty. Then they head off to Reichenbach Falls, and Holmes gets into his fatal battle, disappearing, along with the villain, in the spray of the falls. This is actually the weakest bit of the issue, as there is no real indication that Holmes has died (or even seemed to).

The second story is adapted from the tale in which Sherlock Holmes is revealed to have survived his fight with Moriarty, so it opens with Watson on his own, reflecting on the death of his friend.

Then Holmes turns up alive, and explains how he survived. But since there was little to make one think he was dead, this doesn't come off as well as it might have.

The rest of the tale is fine, as Holmes faces off with Moriarty's second in command, seeking vengeance for the death of his boss. The stories rely on a lot of action, so compress a lot of the deduction and set up. Still, this is above par for the period, and it is kind of surprising that no second issue ever came out.

Sherlock Holmes had appeared numerous times in various DC books before this, and would continue to do so. About ten years down the road an issue of Detective Comics would use him, in a Batman story that spanned years of events, and the art in that tale was also by Cruz, providing a small sense of continuity for anyone who knew of this obscure issue.

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