Saturday, December 4, 2010

Victorian Undead: Sherlock Holmes vs Zombies

Victorian Undead: Sherlock Holmes vs Zombies by Ian Edginton and Davide Fabri. Wildstorm (Titan Books £14.99)
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Yet more zombies! The undead are everywhere, it seems, breeding like flies. Do I really want any more? However, Sherlock Holmes vs Zombies is a jolly jaunt through Victorian London, a city besieged from within by the undead, created by a particular evil mastermind (guess who). Holmes and Watson are called to Scotland Yard to help solve a case, that of a man pronounced dead -- but now very much ‘alive’, a monster craving human flesh.

The secret service warns the great detective off but Holmes being Holmes… Well, you know that wouldn’t work. And so he and Watson climb down into the tunnels far beneath the city’s streets, only to encounter an army of revenants. They are rescued by that other great mind, Mycroft Holmes, and an elite contingent of the British Army.

And over dinner at the Diogenes Club the full story begins to emerge, about a comet and an earlier outbreak of the undead. And Holmes’ nemesis is still alive (well, sort of) and controlling an army of the undead. It is up to the fearless duo to re-enter the necropolis that was London and put an end to yet another evil scheme…

I was in two minds about buying this graphic novel. I had read the first issue of the monthly series on initial publication and dismissed the series. I was wrong to do so and I’m glad I bought the book. I love Ian Edginton’s script -- Victorian detective story, steampunk science fiction and, of course, zombie horror. The dialogue works well; you could easily imagine 19th Century gentlemen talking and acting as depicted, albeit in a subtly altered alternate reality. And Davide Fabri’s artwork illustrates it to perfection. It thankfully avoids excessive lingering details of death and destruction and zombie decay, using these images when necessary and thus causing greater impact. Full marks.

An anthology of geezer noir

A new anthology has hit the book shelves recently: Damn Near Dead 2: Live Noir or Die Trying! edited by Bill Crider (Busted Flush Press $18.00 -- you can buy this via Amazon). The book cover states that this in an ‘anthology of geezer noir’ -- so it seems as if it should be a fun read. There are two dozen stories here, all new, by the likes of Neal Barrett Jr, Christa Faust, Ed Gorman, Joe R Lansdale, Tom Piccirilli, Kat Richardson and SJ Rozan.

Blurb on the back cover says that these stories make ‘Miss Marple look like a Girl Scout’ (Chicago Tribune). We’ll see…