Advance Review: Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia Vol. 1


Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are two of my favorite characters. I’ve read the lion’s share of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock novels and many of the works they inspired from later writers. I can practically quote the Guy Ritchie films. I’ve even portrayed Dr. Watson on stage and brought other Doyle characters to life in adaptations of classic radio dramas. So when I saw a Sherlock Holmes comic on the list of titles available to review this week, I was ecstatic. I soon realized that Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia is an adaptation of the British television series. The first volume of this Sherlock series, presented as a manga by Titan Comics, presents a direct adaptation of the series’ fourth episode.

Now I’ve never seen Sherlock, though I’ve heard good things. Most of the praise revolves around the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch is the star. I’ve got nothing against Mr. Cumberbatch, but hearing his name is not enough to make me seek out a movie or film in which he’s featured. Plus, I don’t have cable. However, after reading A Scandal in Belgravia, I find myself motivated to head over to one of the streaming services I subscribe to and seek out the show. Since I haven’t seen the specific episode, I can’t say how faithful of an adaptation this manga is to the original show. What I can say is, this first volume was a very enjoyable read.

The original version of this manga was published in Japan by Kadokawa. The folks at Titan Comics have translated the issues into English so that those of us who don’t speak Japanese can enjoy this Sherlock Holmes adventure. For those who are fans of the television show, artist JAY. does a great job of capturing the likenesses of Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (who plays Watson on the show). My favorite panels were those that show Sherlock engaged in the process of deduction. The way JAY. highlights the details of the person Sherlock is observing makes the reader feel like they are looking through the detective’s eyes. JAY. also cleverly illustrates the fact that Sherlock can’t get a read on Irene Adler.

This is a modern take on Sherlock Holmes, and it took me quite a few pages to get used to Watson writing a blog on a computer and Holmes talking about his website. There’s quite a bit of humor in the manga and as one would expect from an adaptation of a British television show, the dialogue is very pithy. Steven Moffat, who wrote the episode the manga is adapting, does a great job of capturing the tone and pacing of the conversations between Watson and Holmes. Moffat seems to have a rich understanding of the detectives’ relationship and this detail is evident throughout the story. Moffat also does a good job with the interactions between Adler and Holmes. JAY. helps sell the moments between adventuress and detective by illustrating quick glances and meaningful looks between the two. Adler playfully besting Holmes in a game of wits is a common scenario in Sherlock stories. Moffat not only puts a creative spin on his version of their first tête-à-tête but also leaves the reader excited to see future interactions between the two characters.

There’s a lot to like about A Scandal in Belgravia, but it’s probably not the right book for every comic reader. The story is dialogue-heavy and has slow pacing. Although the artwork is well-drawn, this book is still manga. There are no bright colors and most of the panels feature people talking. As a result, those who aren’t used to reading manga, or those who aren’t as interested in a modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, may find that this book fails to hold their attention. It is for those reasons that I’m giving A Scandal in Belgravia a general recommendation of ‘Read.’ That all being said, if you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, regardless of the adaptation style, this is a book you’ll want to consider adding to your collection.

Created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat Written by Steven Moffat
Art and Adaptation by JAY Lettering by Amoona Saohin
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Read

Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Pre-Order for September 22 release: comiXologyAmazonKindleBookshop