I have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since age 10, when my mother gave me a collection of Holmes mysteries illustrated for kids (not a graphic novel, just one with a drawing every five or ten pages). “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” hooked me instantly, and that was all she wrote. I’m not a Holmes purist, though, I will take my Sherlock in any way, shape, or form it comes in. And this of course meant that eventually I was going to have to pick up a copy of Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini. That moment finally came this week, when I binge read the series up to today’s release, issue #3.
So, how does the pairing of a fictional character with a historical figure work? Surprisingly well. If you watched the History Channel miniseries about Houdini last summer, you know that there was tension between Sherlock’s creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Harry Houdini after Houdini began publicly debunking spiritualists (Conan Doyle was a renowned proponent of spiritualism). Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery have made the interesting choice to place spiritualism at the center of the series, as Holmes and Houdini work together and against each other to solve the mystery of a murder of a man supposedly under the control of a spiritualist. Holmes is much more rational about the subject than his creator was and agrees with Houdini that it’s an elaborate hoax, but who is behind it? Not who Holmes fans might have guessed, that’s for sure.
The entire series has been an engaging read, with the kind of smart storytelling you hope to see when events are supposed to confound a master detective and a master illusionist. Houdini and Holmes are both well sketched out, and I’ve really enjoyed watching them trying to one-up each other throughout the series—there’s nothing like watching two gifted egomaniacs in direct competition with each other. The story’s plot twists are unexpected, and I was genuinely surprised to see who the villain of this issue turned out to be, although the clues are there if you can unravel them. The art is great, reminding me of vintage comics, and combined with the colors really evokes the time period the action is taking place in. I’m enjoying the mystery and hope the series lasts a good long while (and eventually involves more Watson, as he’s so far taking a backseat to Holmes and Houdini). #3 is the best issue of the series yet, and I give it 4.5 out of 5 Lightning Bolts.
SHERLOCK HOLMES VS. HARRY HOUDINI #3
Writers: Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreery
Artist: Carlos Furuzono
Colorist: Aikau Oliva
Letterer: Rob Steen
Cover Artists: Aaron Campbell, Colton Worely
Release Date: January 14, 2015