Sherlock Holmes: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by David Tipton and Scott Tipton is a graphic novel adaptation of the 1974 novel by acclaimed author and screenwriter Nicholas Meyer. The novel, hated and beloved by Sherlockians alike, paints the legendary consulting detective in a new light. One, that though known and understood for generations, has been overlooked as we reveled in the great detective’s exploits. It is Holmes and Watson and Moriarty and a seven per cent solution of cocaine.
Watson begins this tale, a much older man, wishing to set the record right. He begins by stating two of his works of the exploits of the great Sherlock Holmes, were in fact total fantasy. Including the Final Solution which told the tale of the death of Sherlock and Moriarty. Instead Watson tells the tale of returning to Baker Street and finding his old friend in throes of a cocaine addiction. We have long known that Holmes used cocaine but here it has finally taken hold of him. He is going mad and sees conspiracy everywhere. Especially in the form of the crime boss, Professor James Moriarty. It is here that the story twists as Watson is visited by a man, a frightened thin man who claims to be Moriarty himself. He tells Watson that Holmes is harassing him and making false accusations to his character. Fearing that there is some truth to what Moriarty says, Watson enlists the aid of Sherlock’s much older brother Mycroft and together they devise a plan. They send Professor Moriarty to Venice, knowing that Holmes will track him and follow. And it is there in Venice that they spring their trap upon Holmes. For in Venice is not James Moriarty but the renown therapist and hypnotist, Dr. Sigmund Freud.
Under the care of Freud, Holmes is able to break his addiction to cocaine. But in doing so exposes long hidden secrets and trauma from his childhood. Trauma of which Professor Moriarty pays a central part. Of course, during the time of his rehabilitation Holmes also becomes involved in a plot to murder a king and throw Europe into a world war. All of which he thwarts but it seems, only for a short time.
The Seven Per Cent Solution paints Sherlock Holmes in a far different light than almost any other novel would dare do. Gone is the brilliant and controlled detective and in his place is a man shackled by his drug addiction but unable to ask for help. It also shows how deep the friendship between Watson and Holmes was to battle such inner demons.
Tipton does a terrific job of staying true to the story. This adaptation of the original novel is as close as I have seen. It may even do the novel one better as it is able maintain a much faster and frantic pace as that of the novel. The artwork is splendid and holds to the time and setting. For those who have never read the book they will enjoy this graphic novel adaptation and for those of us who have read the book, will remind us why we loved and hated it so.