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Girl Powered Romp Through Victorian London in Adler #1

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Published by Titan Comics

Writer: Lavie Tidhar

Art/Colors: Paul McCaffrey

Letterer: Simon Bowland

Release Date: 2-5-2020

Review by Joe Bones

Characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlotte Brontë, and Charles Dickens are brought into a whole new light in Adler #1. In this five issue mini-series, Irene Adler takes on Professor Moriarty. Sherlock and Watson are off investigating the Hound of the Baskervilles, so Irene has to recruit a group of ladies from history and literature to help her take down Moriarty. In the first issue of Adler, we see Irene recruit Jane Eyre and Lady Havisham, and are introduced to a few of the other characters who will become key players in the story to come.

I love everything about the concept behind Adler, but I have to admit that I found the pacing of this first issue to be a little slow. The story is told from Jane Eyre's perspective, which seems like an odd choice for a comic titled after one of Doyle's characters. Series writer Tidhar spends an inordinate amount of time introducing us to Jane, compared to the amount of detail we learn about Irene or Havisham. Tidhar also only gives the briefest glimpse into the mystery that will form the plot of this mini-series. It was enough to peak my interest, but in terms of both plot and character development, I wanted more out of this first issue.

Despite my misgivings with the storytelling in this first issue, I really loved Tidhar's take on these classic female characters. Irene is a bad ass from her first panel onward. My favorite scene in this whole first issue was Irene using deductive reasoning to suss out the details of Jane's life. Tidhar's Jane Eyre is completely re-imagined in the story, considering that she's twenty-five, the comic is set in 1902, and she's seemingly married to Richard and not Edward. I'm interested to see how this version of Jane will fit into the comic's narrative, and why she was so heavily featured in this first issue. I'm also really interested in Tidhar's take on Havisham. This is a version of Havisham from before Great Expectations. She's young, active in high society, and has an interest in science. Quite an intriguing departure from Dickens' original character. There are fun nods to the source material of these three heroines throughout the entire issue; a trend I hope continues as the mini-series continues.

The art in this book can only be described as beautiful. Artist McCaffrey's character designs are gorgeous. He draws the female characters like they're actual women. They're bodies are not disproportioned like the bodies of female characters in so many other comic books. Each character's face has its own unique look, and each serves to highlight McCaffrey's artistic style. His style also lends itself really well to the Victorian setting of the story. My only complaint with the art is that his color choices make the scenes look a little washed out. His color palette makes each panel have an odd similarity. This works great for the scenes set in London. However, when wartime Africa is colored the same as Victorian London, it takes something away from the art as a whole.

Sherlock Holmes once said, “To be a woman is to be at war”. A statement made even truer when that woman is going up against Professor Moriarty, one of literature's most formidable criminals. Adler checks all of my boxes of what makes for a great story. Strong female lead characters? Check. Alternate history take on classic characters/events? Check. A fearsome villain? Check. An intriguing mystery? Check. Stunning and unique art style? Check. With all these exciting aspects combined together, I cannot wait to see where the mini-series goes from here.

STORY: 3 / 5

ART: 4 / 5

OVERALL SCORE: 3.5 / 5