Manga Review: Sherlock: A Study in Pink Vol. #01

Sherlock Holmes has had many incarnations throughout the years, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s hyperpaced version in the TV show Sherlock truly stands apart. And now a manga adaption of the series is available in English from Titan Comics!

Back Cover Blurb

The Japanese Sherlock Manga comes to the USA and UK for the first time ever! Adapting the episodes of the smash-hit BBC America/Hartswood Films TV show that sees Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) tackling brain-teasing crimes in modern-day London, this stunning manga is presented in its original right-to-left reading order, and in the full chapters as originally serialised. Each oversized issue comes with a selection of BRAND-NEW covers by some of the best Sherlock artists around! #1 kicks things off with a 52pp special. Meet Sherlock and Watson for the first time… all over again!

The Review

I’ve reviewed one other comic adaption of a live action series (Game of Thrones), and while it had some good points, the art was a serious letdown. As such, I had reservations about Titan Comics’ release of A Study in Pink. It turns out I needn’t have worried. Mangaka Jay does an excellent job of rendering Benedict Cumberbatch’s and Martin Freeman’s likenesses such that they are not only recognizable but convey the essence of their unique Sherlock and Watson.

For those unfamiliar with the Sherlock television series, it is a modern-day take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective. A Study in Pink is based upon A Study in Scarlet, the first of the Doyle novels, but it is much faster paced and loaded with tongue in cheek humor. Our present day Sherlock is a self-proclaimed high functioning sociopath who sends snarky group texts while Watson is an Afghanistan veteran who blogs at the insistence of his therapist. As in the original, both men are struggling to pay the rent on their own, and a mutual acquaintance introduces them as potential flatmates. But while this Holmes has amazing powers of deduction like the original, his brilliance comes with an unfiltered mouth and a peculiar temperament. When Sherlock goes into a giddy excitement at a string of serial suicides, Dr. Watson gets swept into the first of his mysteries with his new roommate.

The manga adaption is not a scene-by-scene storyboard of the series, but it is quite faithful to the original script. In other words, if you’ve seen the series, you won’t get any new insights, but you will get to enjoy Cumberbatch’s Sherlock in a different media format. Regarding the format, Titan has chosen to release A Study in Pink in six parts, the first of which is 52 pages. I personally prefer my manga installments to be thicker than that, but the pages are supposedly oversized (I had a digital review copy so I can’t say what the actual dimensions are) which might make up for the thinner issues. At any rate, Jay-sensei certainly had enough space to narrate the story such that it flows beautifully and delivers an impact at the dramatic points. When we get our first glimpse of Sherlock, it’s a wonderful full-page close-up of his face. And while Cumberbatch fans might be most interested in those drawings, Jay-sensei’s artwork maintains a high level of quality in expression and realism throughout.

In Summary

A Study in Pink is definitely an excellent work in terms of pacing, artwork, and storytelling. In regard to the story, however, it doesn’t add anything to the television script from which it was based. So if you’re an existing fan who simply wants the TV series distilled into manga format or just a lot of black and white drawings of actors Cumberbatch and Freeman, this will fit the bill. If you’re a comic/manga reader who’s never heard of Cumberbatch or Sherlock, give it a try. Even if you’re not a mystery buff, you might just find yourself hooked into the fandom.

First published at the Fandom Post.

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