The Baker Street Peculiars (Book Review)

The Baker Street Peculiars

by Roger Langridge and Andy Hirsch
kaBoom! (January 2017)
112 p. ISBN 9781608869282

Publisher’s Summary

The Baker Street Peculiars is a supernatural twist on the beloved world of Sherlock Holmes.

When a giant lion statue in Trafalgar Square comes to life and wreaks havoc on 1930s London, it seems like the perfect case for the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. With an overwhelmed caseload, however, Holmes recruits the help of three precocious young detectives-in-training (and one cunning golden retriever) to solve the mystery. Molly, Rajani, Humphrey, and Wellington (the dog) will have to work together and use all their wits if they are to uncover the truth behind the living statues and save London. But on the legendary Baker Street, nothing is as it seems and their biggest mystery might be the real identity of the famous detective who brought them together.

Written by Eisner Award winner Roger Langridge (Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Abigail and the Snowman) and illustrated by Andy Hirsch (Adventure Time, Regular Show), The Baker Street Peculiars is a heartfelt and supernatural twist on the beloved world of Sherlock Holmes.

General Review

I love stories that center around the Baker Street Irregulars.  I especially love them when they come in comic book form.  I have an entire shelf devoted just to such books, and I’m very pleased to be able to add this one, especially as it has a fairly new, fresh take on the Irregulars mythos.  Despite my personal disinterest in most Holmesian stories that incorporate supernatural elements, I found this one utterly charming.

The story is fairly straightforward.  Statues are coming to life all around London, wreaking havoc wherever they go.  Molly, Humphrey, and Rajani (as well as dog Wellington) are drafted by Sherlock Holmes to look into it, as Holmes is busy with several other cases and doesn’t quite believe the tales of walking statues.  Using their very different backgrounds, the children (not quite Irregulars in the traditional sense) piece together the clues, find the culprit, and save the day.  It’s a common formula, found in many different Irregulars stories, but Baker Street Peculiars manages to find its own unique twist on the formula.

One of the first things that makes this Irregulars story stand out is that, rather than take place in the Victorian era (and often right around the Hiatus), this takes place during the 1930s.  There are vehicles on the streets, electricity instead of gaslight, and slightly different social norms.  It gives the comic a different look, brighter and more colorful, helping it stand out from its predecessors.

Then there are the main characters.  While their personalities are largely told in broad strokes, without a great deal of depth, each of them brings their own set of talents and strengths, as well as unhappiness and baggage, to the investigation.  Molly steps forward as the leader, although her Jewish grandfather would rather she stay home and work towards becoming good wife material; she desperately wants to become a detective in her own right.  Rajani is a foundling, raised by a criminal that she viewed as a father, who ultimately died and left her to fend for herself; she is the most reluctant of our investigators.  Humphrey is the youngest son of a wealthy family, neglected and ignored, sent to a boarding school with a dog valet; Humphrey is naïve and well-intentioned.  They end up working well as a team, with some friction because of their very different backgrounds, in a way that is believable and engaging.

Rather than taking itself too seriously, the book is more comic than dramatic, with cartoonish reactions, villains, and physics.  Despite the comedy, though, it still manages to be touching and sweet at places in the story (watching Molly and her grandfather reconcile their different ideas on what her life should be; Humphrey and Rajani finding a point of connection).

The art, as mentioned earlier, features bright colors and bold lines.  The illustrations are very simple in many ways, but still satisfying.  The backgrounds are largely just shaded in, without a great deal of detail, while the characters receive most of the attention.  There are, however, a number of delightful Easter eggs hidden in the art, references to the Canon that made me guffaw.  Pay particular attention to the first big two-page illustration.

Overall, I thought this comic was an incredibly fun read.  I haven’t yet been able to find out if it will get another run, but I do hope it will, as the ending lends itself to further adventures.

What About Our Watson?

As a Watsonian, I try very hard to focus my attention on books that feature Watson or have him showcased in a particular way.  Occasionally, though, there are books that I very much want to review that lack a Watson entirely.  This is, unfortunately, one such book.  Not only is there no Watson, there isn’t even a Watson figure.  The end of the book hints that a reporter character may end up working with Holmes, fulfilling a similar role to the classic Watson.  However, that happens in the last two pages of the book, as is hardly a major feature of the plot.

Though there is no Watson, which is disappointing, it was still a fun little book.

You Might Like This If You Like:

Scooby Doo (particularly A Pup Named Scooby Doo); comic books; parodies; children protagonists

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