Celebrating Sherlock Holmes' Birthday With Our Favorite Crossovers

by Alan Kistler

The new film "Sherlock Holmes," starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, has been entertaining many. And today, January 6th, is Holmes' actual birthday (as established in the original books).

Even after his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stopped writing fiction, Sherlock Holmes continued to appear in new stories for several decades, in all sorts of media. And sometimes he's been teamed up with other famous characters, fictional creations with their own worlds and fans. Here are some of the wilder crossovers featuring England's greatest detective.

Sherlock Holmes v. Dracula

The title may seem silly, but "Sherlock Holmes VS Dracula" by Loren D. Estleman is a fantastic story that takes place parallel to the original "Dracula" novel by Bram Stoker. Remember how Stoker's book was made up of journal entries, letters and newspaper articles? Here, we see Holmes and Watson investigating those same news stories, leading them to meet Abraham Van Helsing and, eventually, the lord of vampires himself. A great book because that explores all the characters and has strong moments for Holmes, Dracula and Watson as well.

Sherlock Holmes v. Jack the Ripper

People love the idea of pairing the mysterious 19th century serial killer with the fictional detective who operated during the same time. Holmes and Red Jack faced off in the film "A Study in Terror," made in 1965. Another film, "Murder by Decree," was made in 1979 and featured them facing off again, this time adding a conspiracy plot to the whole story. And in the infamous 1979 novel "The Last Case of Sherlock Holmes" by Michael Dibdin, secret documents belonging to Watson are discovered that show a connection between Jack the Ripper and Holmes' arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, while also indicating that the Great Detective had a darker side than anyone could have guessed.

There's also, of course, the popular video game Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper.

Sherlock Holmes and Elijah Snow

In the pages of "Planetary" by Warren Ellis, we learned the Holmes had spent his later years not as a beekeeper, as Watson would have us believe, but as a secret architect of human society itself. In this comic, we learned that he worked alongside the likes of Dracula and the Invisible Man to help shape and safeguard humanity. He even taught his skills to a young Elijah Snow, thus unknowingly helping the Planetary team win many victories decades later.

Sherlock Holmes and the Ghostbusters

Back in the 80s, I grew up on cartoons like "The Real Ghostbusters." So imagine the thrill for me when Ray, Egon, Winston and Peter wound up meeting the ghosts of Holmes and Moriarty. In an interesting twist, the show did not claim that either of these characters had been real people. Instead, it was said flat-out that they had been literary characters, but the fact that so many children across the generations loved and believed in them, they were actually brought into being as ghostly apparitions.

Now, Moriarty was determined to find a way to become truly alive and Holmes teamed up with the Ghostbusters to stop him, accepting the fact that he had never been alive and had no right to risk others in his attempt to become real. A strangely layered story for a kid's show.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who

It had to happen. The greatest detective in the UK inevitably had to cross paths with the greatest alien super hero in the UK.

In the "Doctor Who New Adventures" novel "All-Consuming Fire" by Andy Lane, the 7th Doctor and his companion Bernice Summerfield land in 19th century England and are surprised to meet Holmes and Watson, whom they had always believed were fictional characters. It's a fun meeting, as Holmes is quickly frustrated by the Doctor being a genuine mystery to him, especially since the man seems to have soil on his shoes that cannot possibly be from Earth. What could make this team-up even more wacky and wild so that it is worthy of being a true Doctor Who tale? The fact that our heroes wind up fighting the demonic Ancient Ones of H.P Lovecraft's stories.

Sherlock Holmes and Batman

To celebrate 50 years of publishing, Detective Comics #572 had Batman, Slam Bradley and the Elongated Man investigating crimes by the descendant of Prof. James Moriarty, crimes which, in a way, began during Holmes career when he and the Professor were arch-nemeses.

In the end, to make this anniversary issue all the more special, Holmes turns up to congratulate the detectives on their fine work. How was the detective still alive after so many years? Holmes casually remarks that the atmosphere of Tibet and a specialized diet, though Batman's expression make it clear that he thinks this is a white lie covering some greater secret. Whatever the case, this moment was a fun thrill for detective fans who always wanted to see Batman actually meet one of the men who inspired his creation.

Sherlock Holmes also fought the Joker (sort of) in Joker #6 and, most recently, he and Batman joined forces against Moriarty in an episode of "Batman: The Brave and the Bold."

Recently, Moonstone published an anthology teaming up Sherlock Holmes with Kolchak, the Nightstalker. Moonstone has announced that Holmes will be seen with other characters under their umbrella, including the Phantom and the vampire Barnabas Collins of "Dark Shadows," so be on the look out for more crossovers to come!

Alan Kistler is producer for Workers Independent News who has read every original Sherlock Holmes story far too many times. He is an actor and a recognized comic book historian who hosts Midtown Comics TV and his own weekly radio show "Fortress of Awesome" on GetThePointRadio.com. His web-site is KistlerUniverse.com