Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook (#1 – 5) – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld

3 out of 5

So Titan’s best book-to-comic conversion yet (see: Rivers of London, Hard Case Crime) comes from two non-comic authors.  Whoulda thunk?  Also: whoulda thunk Kareem-Abdul Jabaar would be co-writing a hilarious action-comedy-mystery romp?  Okay, maybe you did, but you’re smarter and more aware than I am.

Mycroft Holmes – I’ll assume, not being a Sherlock reader – is part of existing Holmes lore: Sherlock’s older brother, applying a decidedly more rakish version of know-it-all detective-ism to government work.  In The Apocalypse Handbook, Jabaar and Waterhouse outline the beginnings of that relationship, stemming back to when Mycroft was conscripted to assist in thwarting a doomsday plot (thanks to the eponymous handbook; a how-to guide for nefarious weaponry) during college years.

…The timing of which feels a little off, or more likely I’m misinterpreting it, given how James Bond-y Holmes is allowed to be – e.g. worldly, slew of sexual conquests, etc. – and also apparently has enough life experience to be able to flash back to a failed marriage, but here’s the thing about a well-done adventure yarn: You don’t care about such potential gaps.  The character that’s done is to double down and make Holmes both super cool and human, and it works to that effect, giving us worthwhile pauses between the fun.

And said fun is really well handled, both in writing and art.  Our writers avoid the temptation to wedge Sherlock into things too much – he’s there in some scenes, but this is absolutely Mycroft’s tale – and when that problem-solving brain gets to work, it doesn’t feel like wordy hand-waiving, but rather legitimate (within context) deductive skills in action.  The solutions feel clever and not forced, and that’s really hard to pull off.  Visually, Joshua Cassara’s sketchy but solid line work and Luis Guerrero’s muddy color palette combine for a perfectly fluid rainy-day London.  Again, I suspect a temptation here would be to go excessively grandiose, or uber-steampunk with the gadgets, but there’s a nice, grounded sense of workmanship to the settings and props, and Mycroft is handsome and be-abbed, but the same dash of realism is lain atop the characters, giving the whole book an entertainingly scrappy feel.

Which, at series’ end, amounts to a popcorn read, which is why it sits at a solid three star rating.  It’s an excellent “event;” worthy of followups, but the somewhat disposable nature of the details for the sake of entertainment – though expertly effected – relegates it to a read once affair.

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