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Previously adapting “A Study in Pink” from the acclaimed BBC series SHERLOCK, writer Steve Thompson and artist Jay bring their talents to the adaptation of “The Great Game.” The first issue, leading the six-issue run, maintains a staunch faithfulness to the television show. Despite this, Thompson and Jay bring a touch of originality with their methods of depicting familiar characters and settings. Ultimately, though the narrative moves at a slow pace, the issue is an engaging introduction to a haunting mystery.

sherlock the great game #1
Image courtesy of Titan Comics

It’s Not a Game Anymore

The issue begins by presenting a restless, bored Sherlock who doesn’t know what to do with himself when he isn’t working on a seemingly uncrackable murder case. Soon enough though, Sherlock’s brother Mycroft asks him and his loyal assistant, John Watson, to look into the suspicious murder of MI6 clerk Andrew West. Sherlock feels reinvigorated and responds to a call summoning him to Scotland Yard. While analyzing a flat that an explosion has damaged, he finds a pink phone that bears a resemblance to the phone of the victim in the “Study in Pink” case.

READ: Catch up on the evolution of fanfiction and the impact shows such as SHERLOCK have had on the phenomenon, here!

Following this discovery, Sherlock and company are led to another flat that is empty, except for a pair of sneakers. Upon finding the shoes, Sherlock receives a phone call from a woman being held hostage. Unfortunately, her kidnapper strapped a bomb to her body. She relays a message to Sherlock from the man keeping her prisoner. Unless Sherlock can solve his puzzle, he will detonate the bomb.

sherlock the great game #1
Image courtesy of Titan Comics

Every Fairy Tale Needs a Good Old-Fashioned Villain

Sherlock’s characterization is certainly faithful to the television series. The comic depicts his abnormal approach to interacting with others as well as his hubris. In regard to this, the majority of SHERLOCK: THE GREAT GAME #1 is spent setting up the narrative rather than the characters. However, the narrative in this particular issue serves as an introduction to the primary story arc. As a result, the work moves a tad too slow. Despite this, the comic book adaptation of Sherlock and Watson’s relationship maintains the chemistry and humor that is present in the television series.

READ: ComicsVerse interviews the brains behind SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN!

SHERLOCK: THE GREAT GAME #1 retains the subtle tone of dark humor present in the show. This is particularly evident in the sequence where Watson finds a severed head in Sherlock’s refrigerator. Sequences such as this provide the issue with entertaining moments that contrast the overall slow pace. However, the conclusion of the work is horrifying and engaging due to the reveal of the unseen enemy’s twisted capture of an innocent woman. This ambiguous conclusion ultimately leaves the reader anticipating the upcoming reveals of Sherlock’s newest mystery.

sherlock the great game #1
Image courtesy of Titan Comics

Sherlock Holmes Meets Manga

Jay’s illustrations are incredibly intricate. There is an abundance of detail in the depiction of backgrounds, particularly in panels featuring streetscapes. Because of this, the universe of SHERLOCK is well established through the comic book medium. The illustrations of the primary characters, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, are accurate. With this, they also maintain an original touch through the series’ manga influence. Jay’s hand depicts these characters reactions and Thompson pens their internal thoughts in a unique manner that is common to manga iconography. Because of this, adapting SHERLOCK as a work of manga provides the reader with an original perspective of Sherlock Holmes’ strange thought process in solving a case.

READ: Want more Sherlock Holmes? ComicsVerse compiled a list of some engaging comic books starring our favorite detective!

Nonetheless, the omission of color throughout the work is difficult to get accustomed to. At times the contrast and shading between the black and white hues give the artwork a sense of graininess. Perhaps the achromatic tones are meant to provide the work with a noir-ish spirit, enhancing the ominous nature of the mystery killer. However, the tones do not successfully convey that spirit.

SHERLOCK: THE GREAT GAME #1 and Beyond

One must ponder this adaptation’s intended audience. For those seeking an original Sherlock Holmes story, this particular series will prove disappointing since it is faithfully adapting an episode of the BBC show. I believe the work is attempting to please fans who have been wishing to see BBC’s SHERLOCK through another creative medium.

Though Jay’s illustrations are precise, the narrative that is conveyed through the artwork maintains an overall slow pace. Nonetheless, the dynamic Thompson creates between Sherlock and Watson provides the work with positive characterization and multiple moments of entertainment. With this, the highlight of SHERLOCK: THE GREAT GAME #1 may actually be the conclusion. It sets up a disturbing yet captivating villain, and challenge for our favorite high functioning sociopath.

Will Sherlock Holmes be able to solve this mystery? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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SHERLOCK: THE GREAT GAME #1 BY STEVE THOMPSON AND JAY
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Led by Jay's precise illustrations and Thompson's faithful portrayal of familiar characters, SHERLOCK: THE GREAT GAME #1 is overall a worthy introduction to an engaging mystery for fans of the television series.
82 %
Intricate and enticing

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