When fans of BBC’s Sherlock complained about CBS’ plans to air its own updated version of the Great Detective’s adventures, most of the heated commentary conveniently overlooked just how many times Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation has been altered/rebooted/re-imagined over the decades.
He’s fought Nazis, defeated Jack The Ripper – at least when it didn’t turn out that Holmes himself was the infamous serial killer – traveled to the far, far future and was even treated for heroin addiction by Sigmund Freud.
In comparison, portraying Holmes as a recovering addict solving crimes with a female Watson on the mean streets of 21st century New York is hardly a stretch at all … and certainly just as valid as Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who-esque take on the canon.
Soon after the institution of the Comics Code Authority, Charlton published its own spin on the Holmes legend by moving the master sleuth to America (hmmm … sounds familiar) and replacing Dr. Watson with a series of anonymous law enforcement officials who were essentially the good Doctor in everything but name.
(My favorite? A Nigel Bruce lookalike named Frothingham.)
The series only lasted two issues and was exceedingly tame given the draconian standards of the freshly minted Comics Code. Still, it’s always fun to see how Holmes is interpreted during specific points of our cultural history.
And, to be honest, I prefer this incarnation to the two-fisted detective DC briefly unveiled in the 1970s…
“The Mystery Of The Doomed Daredevil” first appeared in Sherlock Holmes #2 (Charlton, March 1956). The writer and artist are not credited.