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Comic Book Review

Book Cover

A Study in Pink #3


Writers: Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss
Artist: Jay.
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: UK £2.65, US $3.99, Cdn $4.99
Age: 12+
36 pages
Publication Date: 10 August 2016

The three-patch problem of A Study in Pink continues to unravel, in this thrilling manga adaptation of the smash-hit Sherlock TV series! Dr John Watson meets a shadowy, conspiratorial figure with an unhealthy interest in Sherlock Holmes! Who is this ‘M’? John is pulled into a web of deceit, as he comes face-to-face with the man who describes himself as Sherlock’s “arch-enemy” – and Sherlock sets a trap for a serial murderer…!

The page count increases slightly this issue, as adapter Jay. has produced a 30-page third episode of A Study in Pink. This is in order to squeeze in John’s encounter with the mysterious ‘M’, as well as the reasoning behind Sherlock asking the doctor to send a text message on his behalf.

Of course, anyone who has seen Sherlock will know the identity of ‘M’ already, but to the uninitiated he is cunningly introduced, seeming more like a master criminal than anything else. “I am the closest thing to a friend that Sherlock Holmes is capable of having,” he tells John, “An enemy.” He asks the doctor to spy on Sherlock for him, because, “I worry about him, constantly.” There’s also a hint of John Steed as we first see this decidedly dapper figure leaning casually on an umbrella.

What is clear is that this character is on the same mental level as Sherlock, a kind of kindred spirit. He can be as hurtfully rude to John as Sherlock can: “Bravery is by far the kindest word for stupidity, don’t you think?” He also betrays a love for the dramatic, even while accusing Sherlock of the same, and correctly deduces that John’s condition is not post-traumatic stress disorder at all.

Meanwhile, Sherlock shows as much indolence as the prose version of Holmes would attribute to his brother, summoning John from the other side of London rather than get up from his comfortable position on the couch. He could have tried Mrs Hudson, he explains, but “she’s downstairs. I tried shouting, but she didn’t hear.”

As usual, Jay. includes every detail of the television script, though just occasionally the visual sense is hard to follow, such as a shot of an interior telephone while a call box on the street is ringing, and some of the ‘sound’ effects continue to be annoyingly superfluous: “twitch”, “startle”, “stare”, etc. For the most part, however, the strengths of the script shine through, as the above quotations demonstrate.

With three episodes of the story left to go, this sedate comic book offers you plenty of reading for your own comfortable position on the couch.


Richard McGinlay

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