We’ve seen some celebrities turn to the unlikely medium of comic books to tell their stories recently. First, we saw Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darryl McDaniels turn to comic books to tell his own story under the DMC label. Then Congressman John Lewis wrote a graphic novel about the civil rights movement called March–winning countless awards this year. Now basketball legend and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has adapted Arthur Conan Doyle’s Mycroft Holmes into the next best steampunk comic book series.
Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook, co-created with writer Raymond Obstfeld, artist Joshua Cassara, colorist Luis Guerrero, and lettered by Simon Bowland, is the ultimate mash-up of 19th century science fiction and fantasy motifs. Sherlock’s smarter brother has been kidnapped by Queen Victoria, tasked with deciphering a building full of broken doomsday machines capable of doing the unthinkable. Think Warehouse 13, if a suave Brit (think James Bond), with a quirky analytical mind (think Doctor Who) is plunged into a world-ending event and an impossible task to solve.
Mycroft Holmes reads like Bill Willingham’s Legenderry–A Steampunk Adventure and Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, only with five issues to speed through the story the action is quick, the dialogue is brief, and the banter is witty and fun. Abdul-Jabbar, who became a fan of reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories early in his NDA career, grew to become a connoisseur of 19th century fiction including Holmes and his infamous brother, enough to write the novel Mycroft Holmes–A Novel with screenwriter Anna Waterhouse, published last year. Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook takes Mycroft on a parallel-world adventure from the Mycroft of Abdul-Jabbar’s novel.
The key to the story is “The Apocalypse Handbook” and the role it will play in stopping a terrorist bent on using the weapons. Written by England’s prime minister, the book includes blueprints from a gathering of a league of “futurists”–science fiction writers Jean-Baptiste Cousin de Grainville (The Last Man), Jane C. Loudon (The Mummy), Samuel Butler (Erewhon), Edward Bellamy (Looking Backward), Marianne Shelley (a Mary Shelley descendant), Jules Verne and Mark Twain–blueprints of the very devices Mycroft must now destroy. While their technology stands idly by, will their other monstrous, sci-fi creations–like Frankenstein’s monster–suddenly becoming reality, too?
The first two issues of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook are available now at comic book stores everywhere.