“The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde” is an odd little comic, simultaneously a sequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” and a twist on the real-life case of the serial killer called Jack the Ripper. Reading it brings to mind other creations like “Silence of the Lambs” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and while it doesn’t quite hit the heights of either, it’s overall a good opening.
There’s something perversely amusing about the idea of an investigator interviewing an imprisoned Dr. Jekyll (whose death at the end of Stevenson’s novel turned out to be part of a cover-up) to try and get into the mind of Jack the Ripper. Is the idea a little silly? Certainly. But it’s an entertaining enough idea, mashing the real world and a literary creation into a single setting.
The star of the comic is inspector Thomas Adye, who’s a bit underdeveloped right now, but it’s clear that Cole Haddon is planning on filling in the gaps over the course of the four issues. We’re getting glimpses of his childhood, seeing his poor relationship with his fellow police officers and his struggle to deal with the imprisoned Dr. Jekyll. While Jekyll comes across as the more flamboyant and attention-grabbing character, it’s Adye whom we’ll ultimately follow.
The depiction of the supposedly-cured Jekyll is at odds to those who have read Stevenson’s novel. That’s not necessarily a problem, since Haddon seems to be hinting that Hyde is not truly gone as Jekyll claims, but it doesn’t quite fit with those who knew Jekyll thinking that the problem is finally gone. Jekyll himself is kept visually off-stage this issue, and I’m curious to see how closely (or not) Haddon and artist M.S. Corley follow the original, where Hyde was a smaller, less muscular man than Jekyll, contrary to popular depictions of the duo. But for now, so much is still supposition on the part of the reader, and I’m willing to see if Haddon surprises us or not.
Corley’s art is a good choice for the comic; he draws it in an old-fashioned manner, but still harkening to modern techniques. I love the evenly spaced lines to show texture in people’s hair, for instance, or the almost-glowing eyes of the Jack the Ripper character that peek out between the hat. There’s an angular quality here too that reminds me of old Mike Mignola art; add in the little details like the wallpaper print, or the intricate lab for Dr. Jekyll, and it’s a visually pleasing comic.
“The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde” is a solid first issue; where it goes from here, though, is anyone’s guess. Still, Haddon and Corley give us enough to want to see more, and I’m entertained enough to want to stick around for the next chapter. If they can keep this initial momentum up, we’ll have a winner.