Hello Again Readers! I’m back and ready to embark once again into the world of classical English Literature in the form of comics. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s wonderful novels and short stories of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson have always been one of my favourite series to read; with The Hound of the Baskervilles in particular being my favourite. In today’s pop culture, the character of Sherlock Holmes is very popular and well explored within various mediums. In the most recent film and television adaptations, he has been portrayed brilliantly by Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes (2009) & Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC’s Sherlock (2010-) and Jonny Lee Miller in CBS’s Elementary (2012-). Within the genre of graphic novels, I have read Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard’s beautiful adaptations of A Study in Scarlett and The Hound of Baskervilles. This is the first time I have encountered Sherlock Holmes where he is up against the famous illusionist, magician and escape artist Harry Houdini. Imagine the adventure and antics that would come from taking the brilliant talents and showmanship of the real life Houdini and pitting him against the brilliant mind and deduction skills of the fictional Holmes. Let’s take a look into Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreedy’s Sherlock Holmes VS Harry Houdini #1.
Our story begins with Harry Houdini performing one of his escape acts within Scotland Yard in London, England in the year 1900.While Detective-Inspector Lestrade and all the other officers are very impressed by the performance, Houdini doesn’t realize that there is one member of his audience who is not impressed by escaping out of hand-cuffs; Sherlock Holmes. Being locked up in one of the holding sells for being found wandering around the streets of London high, Sherlock Holmes has a front row seat to Houdini’s performance and quickly deduces how he amazingly performs the escape. Impressed by the detective’s explanation and reaffirming his believe that all magic is just tricks and illusions to be explained, Houdini invites Sherlock and Dr. Watson to attend his performance at The Alhambra Theatre that night. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a gang of ghostly spirits appear flying throughout Scotland Yard with grave warnings for Houdini. They threaten that if he does not confess that there is truth within magic and the spirit world then someone will die on Houdini’s stage. Will Sherlock be able to explain how Houdini performs his tricks and illusions at his next show? Will the ghosts appear again? And is Harry Houdini’s life really in danger?
Right from the start I liked this comic. The idea of pitting the clever analytical mind of Sherlock Holmes against the brilliant illusions of Harry Houdini was both creative and compelling. It would make sense for Sherlock Holmes to see one of Harry Houdini’s shows if he actually existed, because the novels takes place around the time of Houdini’s actual career. The story itself draws you in quickly and connects you right away to the two protagonists. I really appreciated how acurate the details were in regards to setting up who Houdini is and how he performs his illusions. Having him escape out of police hand cuffs at Scotland Yard, his wife Bess being his assistant and his performance being at The Alhambra Theatre were all well placed details from Harry Houdini’s actual magic tours in London. Highlighting how Houdini only saw magic as illusions/tricks that can be explained through logic, as well as expressing how he didn’t believe in actual spirits, was a good way to set up the conflict and antagonists for our main characters. I feel Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreedy really illustrated the attitude, behaviour and intellectual talents of Sherlock Holmes perfectly. Watching him take apart Houdini’s escape act beat by beat was not only entertaining, but humorous. Now those of you who have never read Sherlock Holmes or know nothing about Harry Houdini, don’t you worry. You do not need any prior knowledge of these two characters to enjoy the comic. The characters are well introduced and the story is new; making it a fun read for anybody who likes mystery, crime, the supernatural, logical thinking and magic.
Carlos Furzono, Aikau Oliva and Rob Steen’s artwork within this comic is extraordinary. The illustrations, colour scheme, lettering and panel layout are all beautiful and captivating. The drawings of the well know characters not only capture who they are, but also depict the different emotions, conflicts and language that they experience and reflect the setting of the time period. This not only attracts new fans, but brings to familiar fans the look and atmosphere of the time period and characters loved by generations of readers.
If you are a fan of mystery, adventure, ghost stories and magic, then this is the comic for you. Anyone who is a fan of Sherlock Holmes or the illusions of Harry Houdini will enjoy Sherlock Holmes VS Harry Houdini #1. I can’t wait to see if Sherlock can deduce who is behind these ghostly attacks and what will happen next to Harry Houdini in issue #2.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!