It was only a matter of time until an indie comic team put something based on Harry Houdini together. Forever entrenched in pop culture, the magician is still remembered to this day and for good reason:
Before Chuck Norris, there was Houdini.
Not many men could take a punch to the chest from anyone in the world and make the daring escapes he did. It practically lends itself to the comic book genre. In a way, the guy was a super hero.
Sean Von Gorman and Todd Hunt’s comic is a success mainly because it captures this element. Through the course of reading, there’s no doubt that Houdini is capable, athletic and intelligent. Like a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Batman, he’s a character with an interesting past that is focused on helping others save their future. While Hunt and Von Gorman’s writing isn’t as polished as it could be, as the character often feels a bit too thin and cliché at times, there’s enough moments of poise and confidence to make you think the series will be better written in the future.
It’s not that the writing is horrible either. There’s just too much focus on one liners and easy comedic devices. One scene in particular between Houdini and his wife feels robbed out of an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” as the magician tries to cover up his night of crime fighting to his suspicious wife. It’s not a bad scene, it’s just a bit too hokey, especially considering the supernatural and mystical ton most of the book has.
Von Gorman’s art is able to capture this tone perfectly. While in black and white, the gray smokey elements and detailed action scenes show the precision of a talented young artist. Between that and the beautiful cover, it’s hard to complain about the art in this book.
While not quite a sleeper hit, there’s enough positives in between the pages to make you think that Houdini’s new adventures are not only just beginning, but are bound to get better in time.