Publisher: Dark Horse

Writer: Cole Haddon

Art: M.S. Corley

Available now 

Cole Haddon tells a story of Mr. Hyde that you probably haven’t heard before, as well as a theory of Jack the Ripper that you haven’t heard before, which is saying a lot, considering many writers have tried their hand at Ripper stories. The story is that these two infamous men not only shared characters in their gruesome tales, but influenced each other in a monumental way. It’s an intriguing idea, one that I hear rumors was written with the intention of becoming a film, and as a lady who enjoys learning about real life murderers & villains, I was anxious to check this one out.

Inspector Thomas Adye is the real center of this book as we follow him on his investigation of the Jack the Ripper murders. He chooses to turn to Dr. Henry Jekyll, also known to the public as Mr. Hyde, a murderous genius who has been locked away in hiding by his best friend; most of London assumes Hyde is long dead. Adye’s introduction to Jekyll  begins not only  a spiral of internal discovery of his own moral limits but also a trail of deceit from within Scotland Yard. Jekyll challenges Adye to open his mind to a more intimate level of detective work, the method of ‘becoming the criminal’ in order to anticipate his next move.

The story touches on several social and psychological aspects at once, and does it in a sophisticated way. The concept of moral boundaries and how many of those could be flexible or change all together when a person is pushed to desperation; the wealthy class in society and the sort of ugly choices a person who wants badly enough to be a part of it will make or even a person who has the same drive to separate themselves from it. The story explores friendship, how it develops in the most unlikely of circumstances and the age old topic of power and corruption.

The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde was published last year in single issues, and seemed to get very little attention from the comic media. In fact, I had no knowledge of it until the trade paperback was offered to me for review. It’s slated to be an ongoing series, taking Inspector Thomas Adye through many well known cases, connecting them in new ways,  much like The Strange Case has done for Mr. Hyde and Jack the Ripper.

The artwork is done by M.S. Corley, whose work includes the re-imagination of the Harry Potter books, Penguin Book style. The art is clean and crisp, simple, easy on the eyes. I admit it’s not particularly exciting to me, personally, I’d even say felt a tad Disney at times, but it didn’t distract at all from the story, so I guess it works here. The writing itself is very nice, at the beginning feeling much older than it is, in it’s British class and pomp. As the story progresses, so the writing relaxes a bit, which only helps the reader experience the general sense of unraveling happening all around.

I enjoyed this book more than I expected to going in to it. I think the material could have easily felt campy and forced, but it didn’t. The characters of Thomas Adye and Henry Jekyll work together nicely, and the connection of the Ripper and Mr. Hyde are believable in this context. I recommend The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde for a casual read and I look forward to seeing more of this series.