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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fear in Four Colors: Victorian Undead #1

By Paige MacGregor

Sherlock Holmes has always been considered the world's greatest detective; a man with all the answers. But maybe that was just because he never had to face a zombie uprising. Until DC/Wildstorm's Victorian Undead, that is.

Following some abnormal celestial activity in the skies of London in 1854, rumors begin to circulate about the desecration of the newly deceased as corpses inexplicably begin returning to life. When two workmen succumb to the dreaded curse and Inspector Lestrade is left with a reanimated corpse on his hands, he immediately calls in Holmes to investigate the curious phenomenon. Although Holmes is in the middle of another case involving deadly automata, the detective and his partner, Watson, are coerced into taking Lestrade’s case and temporarily abandoning the investigation of the seemingly unconnected robotic assassin.

While the first issue of writer Ian Edginton’s Victorian Undead, published in November, doesn’t contain copious amounts of action, it does set the scene for a highly entertaining Sherlock Holmes adaptation, rife with both mystery and zombies. Adopting a more traditional approach to the combination of Sherlock Holmes and the undead—one not unlike that used by author Seth Grahame-Smith in his Jane Austen mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—Victorian Undead #1 shies away from the level of shtick and camp that readers might expect based on Tony Moore’s cover art and the bold “Sherlock Holmes vs. Zombies!” statement featured just below the issue’s title.

One of the best aspects of Victorian Undead #1 is that the issue isn’t preoccupied with scenes of zombie mayhem, something that undoubtedly would be detrimental to the overall storyline. Instead, Davide Fabbri’s artwork is as basic as comic book illustration can be, avoiding the high contrast, somewhat schizophrenic artistic style often adopted by modern horror comics. Given the prim and proper character of 19th century England, Fabbri's crisp, clean lines are highly appropriate, mirroring the organized nature of the society now faced by a hoard of zombies. Likewise, Fabbri’s depictions of the undead of 19th century London mesh perfectly with their surroundings—rather than appearing as monsters ripped from the diegesis of contemporary horror films, Fabbri’s zombies look like characters from Victorian Undead who have died and come back to life.

As with virtually every Sherlock Holmes adaptation, Victorian Undead is essentially a mystery, pitting the great detective against a seemingly supernatural event and setting the stage for a great reveal somewhere down the line. The first five issues of this Wildstorm six-issue mini-series are currently available from Wildstorm Comics online and wherever comic books are sold. Victorian Undead #6 is scheduled for release on April 28.


ratatouille's archives said...

Hi! B-Sol,
What an interesting review...being a fan of Sherlock Holmes and mysteries (and a fan that is afraid of horror films, books, etc,etc,etc...)
I just may seek these issues out to read and add to my (book) shelf too.
Thanks, for sharing!
DeeDee ;-D

B-Sol said...

I've requested the next five issues from Wildstorm/DC, so that Paige can review them as well!

ratu said...


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