Les Quatre de Baker Street, Tome 2

Les Quatre de Baker Street 2Summary: The adventures of the Baker Street Irregulars continue in the second volume of the award-winning comics series based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

Hailed by critics and audiences, The Baker Street Four has received numerous awards and was featured in Angoulême in 2012. Insight Editions is proud to continue to bring this exciting story to English audiences worldwide.

Les Quatre de Baker Street, Tome 2, by J.B. Djian, Olivier Legrand and David Etien 7.5

While I found ‘Les Quatre de Baker Street‘ a bit light on plot and the art sometimes counter-intuitive, I found in it enough potential to warrant taking a gander at its follow-up. Having seen how much progress David Etien had made in the short time since he first got started, I figured it likely that he would improve dramatically as the series carried on.

All that would be needed would be a more substantial plot.

Thankfully, this second volume delivers the goods: slightly more text-heavy and layered, ‘Le dossier Raboukine’ is far more satisfying than its predecessor. This time, it sends our trio on the hunt of a serial killer who has suddenly been eviscerating vulnerable women in London’s East End – leaving most people to believe that Jack the Ripper has returned.

Adding to the mix is a thick layer of socio-political tension, as communists congregate to discuss the future of the proletariat in local bars. In their midst are Russian refugees, who have come to Britain in the hope of starting a revolution – but tsarist agents are purposely trying to sully their escaped countrymen enough to stir xenophobic reactions.

Though the intrigue is fairly superficial, the mix of these two elements is potent enough to make for a compelling read. It’s nothing new, or wholly remarkable, but it’s solid – and at no point is there any filler or redundancy. Combined with Etien’s fine artistic skill, which he is indeed honing (as I had surmised), it’s a pretty enjoyable book.

But it’s also not without its flaws.

Though this time I didn’t find any discrepancies with the placement of characters in the panels, this book had some problematic speech bubbles, which didn’t follow a pattern. In North America, bubbles are usually read left to right, top to bottom. Here, they were sometimes in different sequences, and the rule changed from one panel to the next.

For example, one can look at page 20, panel 5, in which the bubbles go from bottom left to top right to bottom center. Or page 22, panel 5, in which they go from top left to top right to bottom center. It simply wasn’t intuitive, making reading the dialogues, of which there are far more this time, sometimes complicated, if not wholly incoherent.

There are other issues, such the connecting bubbles on page 19, panel 4, which suggest it’s all one person talking when there are two, but it’s not as disorienting as the problems in volume one. So, all told, I’d have to say that this book’s an improvement. And, in my opinion, if it keeps getting better, then this will be a rather enjoyable series.

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