Action Lab 2017
Written & Lettered by Justin Phillips
Illustrated by Sean Gregory Miller
Coloured by Lesley Atlansky
It’s another day in Baker Elementary room 221 until show and tell is disrupted by disaster. Watson takes the opportunity to try and make friends but ends up questioning his current friendship with Sherlock Holmes as Sherlock is oblivious to his feelings. But when Watson is accused of stealing, Sherlock is forced to face something terrifying: his own feelings.
While this may be an all-ages book don’t let that fool you because this is one hell of a great read no matter what age you are! The kind of storytelling that Justin manages to pull off here is freakin brilliant and I kid you not. I mean let’s face it we’ve all wondered what a young Sherlock Holmes would’ve been like and to put him in a modern elementary school and have his sidekick/best friend be a dog not only makes this super cute but super interesting.
The characterisation here is beyond what anyone should expect. From the get go this issue we see Watson trying to be a friend and offer to help Emma when her dolly comes up missing. This sets things on a downward spiral between him and Sherlock as the later doesn’t want anything to do with helping Emma. There’s a lesson to be learned here from this interaction and it’s one no one has thought to teach Sherlock to date. Sherlock may be super smart but he’s also a jerk sometimes and he needs the warm outgoing Watson to temper that and let him seem likable, if that’s at all possible.
Then there’s the way that Sherlock is able to solve something so incredibly easily. I mean it doesn’t take him much other than simple observation to deduce what really happened in school today. Though his presentation leaves a little to be desired the outcome well that’s kind of a forgone conclusion. It’s how things get there though that’s really the fun part. So that Justin can balance the two things here is incredibly well done and will entertain you regardless of your age.
Sean Gregory and Lesley do some wonderful work on the interiors here. I loved the opening with its more traditional style of comic art that then switches over to the cutesy all-ages kids style. The use of page layouts, angles and perspective are extremely well done. There’s no clutter and the story is easy to follow visually which is important for that all-ages aspect.
Doesn’t matter which version of Sherlock Holmes you’re a fan of this is going thrill you. It’s perfect for younger new readers to get them interested not just in comics but reading period. It’s a great learning tool and reminder why we need friends in our lives and what it takes to keep them.
If I were a teacher I’d grade this as an A+