Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Case Of Blind Fear!

Following on the success of Scarlet in Gaslight which dramatically pitted Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes against Bram Stoker's Dracula, Martin Powell and Seppo Makinen teamed up once again to take Doyle's great detective in a slightly different direction. This time the antagonist was plucked from the broad  and vivid canon of H.G. Wells, specifically his villainous creation, "The Invisible Man".

A Case of Blind Fear (outstanding title) actually works better as a Sherlock Holmes story than did the earlier Scarlet in Gaslight (which I still adore nonetheless). The super-scientific base for the murderous Griffin is challenging but somewhat less shocking to the 221B Baker Street milieu than the supernatural undead of Bram Stoker. The universe of Wells mingles better with the super-rational universe of Doyle.

Also unlike Scarlet in Gaslight, Holmes this time is in full command of his wits, save for those which are slightly blunted by the confusing absence of Dr. John Watson and the untimely arrival of "The Woman" herself, the beautiful and distracting Irene Adler. In fact it is the personal story of Watson and his wife Mary which is the center of attention this time out, as Watson's old life comes back to literally haunt him. 

Powell's writing is at his usual excellent standard here, if anything firmer and more nimble with loads of echoes from the classic Holmes canon. Makinen's artistic storytelling is improved since the earlier effort, reading cleanly and doing a wonderful job of rendering the hardest thing imaginable, the unseen itself. Making an invisible man a threat can be more difficult in the broad comic book world, but it is accomplished with gusto here. The story also makes superb use of vintage Holmes villain Captain Moran, making him something truly vile and repulsive. The villainy is ripe and potent in this one.

Hard to find, but worth the effort, I heartily recommend A Case of Blind Fear. Here are the covers for the original Eternity Comics limited series (Malibu's black and white brand):

And here's a striking cover for the Caliber Comics 1996 collected version of the tale.

I read this story in Volume One of Moonstone's Sherlock Holmes Mysteries which collects the Powell-Makinen stories. There is a second volume in this set, and I'll be attending to that soon.

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