In Review: Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #3

I'm interested in the story, but the art is poor.

The covers: A pair to collect for this pair of icons. Aaron Campbell does a hauntingly beautiful cover in green, black, and white of a woman underwater, her hair flowing about her in the current, and a few small bubbles escaping from her mouth. Just visible below the book’s red title is a hand reaching down to pull her to safety. Gorgeous! The Variant cover is by Colton Worley and it’s just a mess. It appears to be a poster extolling the virtues of seeing Houdini on stage, but a tear (or swath of skin) has appeared with the giant face of Rasputin emerging from it. Too dark and thick lined to find any focus. Disappointing. Overall grades: Main A+ and Variant F

The story: This is my first introduction to this series and I had no difficulty in stepping into this after the first two issues. This installment from writers Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery begins with Holmes trying to prove that Houdini’s wrong about something. He does so, ending his experiment with a fun exchange at the bottom of Page 2. Unfortunately, this leaves Holmes with no leads on his case. Usually when in need of “inspiration” he turns to a certain medicinal source, but to do so would give the escape artist satisfaction in defining the detective’s character. Therefore, Sherlock will use simple detective work to lead to his next step. The story then moves to a double-paged spread following Houdini on his quest for the truth. This sequence makes Houdini seem really unintelligent. I can’t believe he thought he was fast enough to attempt to do that maneuver. I did enjoy the tongue lashing and clue provided on Page 6. I believed in Harry’s arrogance in continuing his show. The events that began on 9 and closed out the issue were very thrilling. Del Cor and McCreery really got things on a good roll with the danger in the theater and atop it. I was a little disappointed that no reference was made to Reichenbach Falls on Page 19, but I’m intrigued to see where this pair’s adventures take them. Overall grade: B

The art: This is where the book suffers. Carlos Furuzono is just not up to the task of illustrating this book. His characters are very inconsistent. It took me a moment to realize that the character I was looking at on Page 2 was also Holmes on Page 3–his face has become fat in the third panel, elongated in the fourth and fifth, and by the sixth it’s condensed and he’s lost weight. This all occurs on Page 3. The action that occurs in the seventh panel on the double-paged spread of 4 and 5 is confusing, because in the 8th panel Houdini is suddenly on the man’s right. When did he move? Later in the book, at Houdini’s performance the audience in the establishment shot is comprised of white Q-tip heads on black and becomes a sea of them in the final panel. Whey is so much space devoted to the curtain in the second panel on 9? And how/when did the audience vacate their seats so quickly by 13? The final panel on 16 looks as if a character is trying to kick another, and the antagonist, when revealed, looks like Santa Claus and nothing like his photographs. This is sub par art, bringing down the book. Overall grade: D

The colors: Aikau Oliva is doing what he can to provide depth to the illustrations, such as shading characters, and providing light sources, but when the visuals are this poor and the backgrounds/settings so sparse there’s not much that can be done to improve it. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Opening credits, dialogue, narration, and sounds are provided by Rob Steen who proves he’s better than the average letterer by differentiating between dialogue and narration. Overall grade: A

The final line: I’m interested in the story, but the art is poor. Overall grade: C 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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