The Hound of the Baskervilles

houndOne of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous Sherlock Holmes mysteries is brought to gloomy life In this book from Martin Powell and Jamie Chase. Any fan of classic mysteries will be familiar with the story line of the infamous Hound. After a mysterious and tragic death, Holmes and Watson are brought onto the case of the Baskerville family and their apparent haunting by a giant, ghostly, but all too deadly, hound. Once they arrive on the bleak moor and marsh of Dartmoor, they discover even more mysterious occurrences, including an escaped lunatic, a frightened and beautiful woman, and a strange butterfly collector. With Holmes’ customary skill and reasoning ability, they solve the mystery, but even Holmes cannot avert all the tragedies that surround the Baskerville name.

The lengthy story of the hound of the Baskervilles has been compressed into a 63-page graphic novel. Since Conan Doyle’s stories depend heavily upon narration and dialogue, this means the plot is cut down to the bare minimum and there are a lot of talking heads. The story jumps randomly from one happening to another, lacking the bridges of text that Doyle’s original work included. Readers already familiar with the story will be annoyed at the lack of atmospheric build-up and the loss of Doyle’s original, thrilling text, while new readers unfamiliar with Doyle’s classic mysteries will wonder what the big deal is, not knowing what they’re missing.

The artwork could have redeemed the piecework adaptation, but instead puts the final nail in the coffin of this less-than-stellar adaptation. The artwork focuses mainly on staged cameos of the characters and on scenes of dialogue. There’s no life or movement and each panel appears to be a separate still-life photograph. The colors are limited to sepia tones with heavy gray, black and a little dark green. The faces are distorted and flat, looking like a poor copy of old newspaper photos. It’s difficult to tell the various characters apart, even when they show their trademark characteristics (deerstalker hat, butterfly net, etc.).

If you’re looking for an enjoyable graphic mystery, introduction to Sherlock Holmes, or new perspective on the classic story, look elsewhere.

The Hound of the Baskervilles
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Martin Powell, Jamie Chase
ISBN: 9781616551100
Dark Horse, 2013