Sherlock Holmes is one of the — if not the — most adapted literary characters ever. I didn’t bother to look up any statistics or sources before making that statement, but I stand by it. From stage plays and videos games to TV shows and big budget blockbusters, Holmes and his faithful biographer Dr. Watson sure do get around. That includes a fair number of Sherlock Holmes comics.
The most famous of all Sherlock Holmes comics is probably A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaimon and Raphael Albuquerque. This award-winning comic pits Victorian England’s greatest mind against the world’s oldest threat, Cthulhu. But there’s a lot more where that came from! Here are five wildly different Sherlock Holmes comics that should suit just about every taste.
(Note: As with many Holmes adaptations, male voice predominate. While some adaptations now take pains to elevate female voices [e.g. Elementary co-star Lucy Liu, who also directed a handful of episodes], there is still a lot of work to do in this regard.)
Victorian Undead by Ian Edginton and Davide Fabbri
Similar to A Study in Emerald, this series pits London’s consummate logician against a supernatural threat. This time, zombie hoards have plagued England for decades, and Professor Moriarty decides to use them in his latest dastardly plot. Guess who is called in to stop him? If you like Victorian Undead, you’ll be happy to know there is a sequel featuring Dracula and a special issue about Jekyll and Hyde.
Watson and Holmes: A Study in Black by Karl Bollers, Rick Leonardi, and Larry Stroman
Many adaptations take Holmes out of his familiar Victorian London environs. This comic reimagines him and Watson as Black men in 21st century New York City. They meet over the beaten body of an unidentified man who begs them to find a woman named Trina. Thus begins a fresh yet familiar take on one of literature’s greatest partnerships.
A Scandal in Bohemia by Petr Kopl
This comic retells one of Holmes’s most beloved adventures with lively artwork and plenty of humor. Holmes and Watson are hired by the hereditary king of Bohemia to prevent the king’s ex-lover, opera singer Irene Adler, from wrecking his engagement. Incidentally, if you like Kopl’s work, he has also authored Sherlock Holmes comics based on The Final Problem and The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Adler by Lavie Tidhar and Paul McCaffrey
Can’t get enough of Irene Adler? Think The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would be better with women? Try Adler, in which the opera singer-turned-adventuress teams up with other fictional women — Lady Havisham! Jane Eyre! — as well as real historical figures — Marie Curie! Queen Victoria! — to protect the British Empire from an angry African queen and a vampiric assassin.
Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld, and Joshua Cassara
Why should Sherlock get to have all the fun? Well, mostly it’s because his brother Mycroft, who is both smarter and lazier than him, can’t be bothered to get up and do anything. Now, however, Mycroft has no choice but to take action: in this case, stopping a man intent on destroying the world.