Last week I mentioned that The Creeping Man felt like a crossover between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Jekyll. As we come to the end of the Granada television series with season 4 approaching and only 6 episodes, we have time for a detour. Holmes is no stranger to crossover fiction. There are comedies that are absolutely hilarious. There are horror stories and science fiction ones that will blow your mind. But the really remarkable thing is that almost all of them work brilliantly.
I’ve been a fan of many, having read various pastiches over the years but the strange tales of Holmes never cease to bring me enjoyment. It’s like trying to figure out how the Great Detective can solve something so bizarre that he shouldn’t be able to cope. Let’s take a look at some examples. Rather than dive into all of the various ones that are out there, I’ll pull from my own collection.
I was traveling through Pennsylvania recently when we saw an antiques place, or more specifically a flea market with an antique store within. I enjoy these for the trips down memory lane and sometimes I find treasures.
Imagine The Walking Dead in 1895, when Holmes and Watson are engaged to examine a dead body. Right away it’s evident that Victorian Undead is set in a world of the fantastical as we find Holmes and Watson on a case where mesmerism and automatons play a part. When our dynamic duo are asked off the case by Her Majesty’s Secret Service, issue one ends and I was dying to know what happened. Alas, they only had the first issue…
While wandering Barnes and Noble, my wife found and bought me a strange one indeed. The stories and images are hilarious showing Holmes as you’re unlikely to picture him…. as a cat! Purrlock Holmes is filled with logic puzzles, scrambled titles, pictures and stories that many a Sherlockian will recognize just… well… not the way you’d expect. I can’t say it’s a “purr”fect find, but it certainly was an unexpected one! Come on, that pun was elementary.
In An Opened Grave, the author takes some liberties and gives Holmes and Watson a chance to investigate the miracles of Jesus Christ. Traveling to Jerusalem ends up being a difficult journey for our heroes but while I found this an interesting read, it’s one of the few times a Holmes story failed me. I confess it’s been years since I’ve read it, but my memory of it was one that I would not go back to. Not unhappy to have read it, but would prefer other options.
On the other hand, I keep looking for more of Alexis Hall’s stories with the Great Detective because The Affair of the Mysterious Letter was both funny and Lovecraftian. But that’s just one of many that give Holmes over to the Elder Gods. Sherlock Holmes Vs. Cthulhu is one of a series; I have yet to read books two and three, but they give the detective a run for his money. I’m particularly interested in The Innsmouth Mutations, as a fan of the classic Shadow over Innsmouth. And possibly the most well known of the crossovers is Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald. Gaiman reimagines A Study in Scarlet and twists the story on its head. Without spoilers, it’s impossible to explain it but the graphic novel is a work of art. (This originated in a book I’ll be discussing in October.)
Arsene Lupin, gentleman burglar, goes up against Holmes in both the book by Maurice LeBlanc The Hollow Needle and in the video game Nemesis. Nemesis was a thoroughly enjoyable game with puzzles surrounding artwork. I remember the enjoyment was marred only by too much pixel hunting. Frogwares finally found a great format with Jack the Ripper, setting Holmes on the Ripper’s tail. That was a far better game relying less on pixel hunting and more on figuring out the mystery!
And sometimes we just need a good laugh so we can turn to Schlock Homes for that. The Bagel Street resident has a number of short adventures where his idiocy is on display for all to see, but the reader gets a real laugh along the way. However my favorite Sherlock Holmes comedy is Warlock Holmes. Warlock is… well, a warlock and his enemies are otherworldly beings. Lastrade is a vampire and Gregson is an Ogre. It’s reminiscent of Without a Clue, the Michael Caine/Ben Kingsley movie from years ago. Watson is the brain, Sherlock is a loon and the stories are so funny that I’m not allowed to read them close to bedtime or I actually laugh in my sleep! All 5 books are magnificent and each year I looked forward to a new one. Unfortunately, C.S. Denning has taken a break, but I’ll be ready for more whenever they come along!
So as I said, Holmes is no stranger to the crossover. In fact, coming back to The Creeping Man, I just picked up The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes by Loren D. Estleman but have yet to read it, so I can’t comment on it. (In fairness, it might be a while, but I’ll get there eventually.)
I’m not quite done here. In two weeks, we’ll look at the Sherlock Holmes story, The Last Vampyre, then I’ll pop back for another crossover before we wrap the series up. ML
Crossover fiction for a famous sleuth like Sherlock Holmes, certainly when it occasionally involves Jesus Christ, is a testament to how our human creativity can surpass itself. In Dr. Jekyll’s case, I’ve easily understood that attraction. The 19th century was great for many British fictional literatures to have particularly common themes, a time when a specific atmosphere nourished the thrills and the mysteries. So when artists much later on could take on the ambitions of such crossovers, it’s a true honour to how all these pioneering Victorian legacies have influenced us. Thanks very much, ML, for this review.
LikeLiked by 1 person