It really is quite an interesting mystery. No, not the one presented in the pages of this miniseries – namely, who is behind the supposedly-mystical attacks and why. That could hardly be called a mystery at all, since the story acts more like a police procedural than anything else.
No, I’m referring to the mystery of why this comic would be written the way that it is – with our main characters portrayed as unlikably as possible. And I think I’ve figured it out: The writers actually hate Sherlock Holmes and Harry Houdini, and want to make sure that the rest of us do, too. Think about it – why else would they insist on writing them as though they were petulant, incompetent children? Holmes and Houdini actually even get scolded for their behavior by Houdini’s wife, Bess, at one point. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Some specifics are probably in order. Issue #3 opens with Holmes testing the idea that someone could be hypnotized into committing suicide. He does this in the stupidest way possible – by acting as a guinea pig, without any sort of safeguards in case it works. Seriously, the only other person with him is the hypnotist, an elderly man that couldn’t possibly have prevented Holmes from doing serious injury to himself. The writers seem to have completely forgotten Watson, as he doesn’t appear at all in this issue. I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, I miss him; he is Holmes’ best friend and partner, after all. On the other hand, he would probably also be a shadow of his former self.
Houdini, meanwhile, is tracking down the false leads that Roberts gave him last issue, and in doing so manages to out-do Holmes in sheer idiocy. He goes to a pub looking for Cirnoc, randomly decides that some guy who’s just sitting there is the one he’s looking for, and slaps some cuffs on him. Naturally, the man fights back, and when Houdini gets a good look at him, he realizes that he’s got the wrong guy. Good job there, Houdini.
So, to recap: Our “heroes” are morons who spend the first several pages accomplishing nothing. They do eventually manage to find the camera that was used to create the illusions in the theater, so there’s that. Lestrade shows up to remind us that he exists and to tell Houdini to cancel his next show, but Houdini is having none of it. Even Bess tries to convince him that it would be the prudent thing to do. And how does he respond? By calling his own wife a coward and going ahead with the show anyway.
Of course, it goes horribly wrong (and not just in the usual way for this comic!) when the mysterious menace strikes once more. The end of the issue is actually pretty good, so I won’t spoil it for those of you willing to slog through the beginning and middle. Personally, though, I just can’t recommend it. The characters are terrible and the story for the most part just plods along. The best thing I can say about this comic is that the art is good, but overall this series continues to disappoint. Skip it!