Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2 features far too much dialogue on the page, spotty quality art and an explosion.
Previously in Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2: The world’s most famous detective meets the world’s most famous magician… and death ensues! Famed detective Sherlock Holmes and brash showman Harry Houdini must combine forces to defeat a mysterious mystic dedicated to destroying Houdini’s career and killing anyone who gets in his way.
SO MANY WORDS ON THE PAGE
Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2 writer Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery are not subtle. From the second page of this issue it’s more than obvious that they have a much greater affinity for Sherlock Holmes than Harry Houdini. Despite the “versus” in the title of this comic book it is hardly a battle of wits. Throughout the issue Holmes does the bulk of the work from deducing all pertinent clues in the murder investigation to physically leading his compatriots from scene to scene.
None of this would be a problem if the title of the issue were not Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2. For his part, the great illusionist has a few snarky quips, escapes some handcuffs and is generally the rude American that one can often find in Elizabethan and Regency period drama (Downton Abbey is rife with them from season to season). In no way is he an equal to Holmes and as far as the over narrative of the issue goes, Houdini isn’t even interesting.
If Del Col and McCreery were tackling a pastiche novel to join the growing canon of post-Doyle Sherlock Holmes adventures they would have quite the tale on their hands. Their Holmes is verbose to the point of cruelty. At the opening of Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2 he verbally abuses Detective Inspector Lestrade into releasing Harry Houdini from his custody and while that is certainly an amusing scene that absolutely feels canon to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, when one takes into consideration that this is being delivered in a comic book, Del Col and McCreery have put entirely too many words into the page.
Holmes talks more than anything else in Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2 and that does not necessarily make for the most compelling comic reading experience. Our two titular leading men meet up again to continue their investigation late into the night and are joined by Harry Houdini’s wife – probably the least useful and most annoying character on the page – and Doctor John Hamish Watson. While it is nice to see the Holmes/Watson dynamic firmly in tact a group of four people does feel cumbersome for the tight questions Del Col and McCreery have placed their scenes within.
Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini deals a lot with a big baddie utilizing colour film to frighten their pursuers and this is where the issue further begins to fall apart. There are points where it feels like you are reading a Scooby-Doo adventure rather than something out of the casebook of the world’s only consulting detective and the greatest illusionist it has ever known.
While Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2 has a lot of great monologues from Sherlock himself, the titular characters are not given equal prominence in the story, it features an explosion simply for the sake of it and a villain lurking in the shadows of the final pages straight out of a 1920s silent film and, in the end, it’s just not a great issue.
There are many great actors who have taken on the role of Sherlock Holmes over the years (notably Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett if you want a so-called classic look), and we have actual photographs of what Harry Houdini looked like. Even with all the resources of the internet, artist Carlos Furuzono manages to fill the pages of Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2 with characters who look nothing like real people.
Overall, the art is weak. There isn’t much that stands out as dynamic about it and Aikau Oliva’s flat colour palate that makes no use of tints or shades does nothing to help it along.
THE BOTTOM LINE: FORGET THIS HOUDINI AND HOLMES
Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2 is well-written, though not well-conceived as a comic book and the artistic qualities do nothing to enhance the experience. There are tomes of Holmes pastiche and many well-regarded biographies and fictional accounts of Harry Houdini’s life. It’s not a bad idea, this issue just doesn’t live up to its iconic leading men.