With a title like Scotland Yard, you know that this particular story is not going to be for the faint of heart, as is the case for this new graphic novel by French comic book writer Dobbs and drawn by French illustrator Stephane Perger. From the first page, Scotland Yard takes readers into the dark underbelly of Victorian England, where mad men thrive and criminals are in control. For those who enjoy the Gothic classics and British mysteries of the late 1800s, this new story will be one to add to their collection.
The story begins with a prisoner transfer that goes horribly wrong. Two crazed maniacs, Carfax and Renfield, escape and begin their rampage. Inspector Gregson is held responsible but is given the chance to redeem himself and find the men. He is given a new office located in the Black Museum, an evidence locker that holds haunting images from past cases. With help from his new team, which include Dr. John Seward (yes, Bram Stoker’s psychologist), the beautiful Faustine Clerval, and a street urchin named Wiggins, Gregson begins his search for the two missing prisoners, before the body count increases.
The dark Gothic atmosphere of Victorian England is captured well in this graphic novel. Illustrator Stephane Perger uses a dark color palette to express the time period’s ugly side. When it comes to the flashback scenes, however, it becomes a traditional black and white scene, allowing readers a glimpse into a criminal’s past. The characters’ expressions are visibly shown; every wrinkle and gruesome smile is present. Depending on the scene, panels overlap with action sequences or moments of tension. The story itself will keep readers on the edge, wondering if the psychopaths will be captured and who is their next victim.
What really makes this graphic novel a must-read is the numerous appearances of famous Victorian characters and figures. You have Bram Stoker interviewing the Yard’s finest in order to gain inspiration for his new novel Dracula, Inspectors Lestrade, Gregson, and Bradstreet are from Sherlock Holmes, and the Elephant Man, a.k.a Joseph Merrick, is given a brief cameo. The graphic novel makes great use of the “crossover” trope, piecing together well-known characters and placing them into a brand new story. The ragtag group works well together, even under dire circumstances, and the cameos fit within the storyline. Classic literature readers will be searching each page to see who makes a cameo and what role they will play.
Scotland Yard is a definite purchase for fans of mystery and crime stories, even if they have never read a graphic novel. Due to the graphic nature of the comic, it should be placed within an adult collection. However, if you have mature young adult patrons who enjoy a good mystery comic, you may want to recommend that they give this a try. The story is engaging and reminiscent of a thrilling detective story set within the haunting atmosphere that was Victorian England’s criminal world.
Art by Stephane Perger
Dark Horse, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 18+