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Enter the Detective

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Butch Guice

Publisher: CrossGen

Synopsis: In the late 19th century, the greatest detective in all of Partington, and perhaps the entire world, is Simon Archard. Archard solves seemingly impossible (and astonishing) cases in minutes, and without raising an eyebrow. He's so good, in fact, that he no longer seems to register a single emotion, besides boredom. What Archard doesn't know is that his partner, the lovely Emma Bishop, has been concealing apparently magical powers that would most certainly clash with Archard's scientific methods--though they keep him safe, unknowingly. But when a mysterious Baroness is linked to a series of crimes, Emma finds that her powers may no longer be enough to protect her--and Simon is suddenly revealing secrets of his own.

How Is It?: This is actually my second encounter with the "CrossGen universe", and a much more favourable one to my mind. I'm still baffled as to what makes this a "universe" when all the titles are so radically different and seemingly unlinked, but never mind. Ruse is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche with a healthy dose of the supernatural and a bit of comic-book alternate-world stuff. The jaded Archard and his banter with Emma make for a great central relationship, and the plot instantly grabs your interest. Waid is certainly dead-on in capturing the atmosphere and narrative twists that make 19th century pulp novels, especially the Holmes books, so enduring, and there's a wonderful dry wit to the whole enterprise. But it's the idea of a woman trying to "save" the isolated, bloodless master detective that gives the series its zing. If I have a complaint it's that the actual mysteries so far haven't relied much on real deduction, but hinge instead on paranormal stuff, which is a bit of a cheat. Nevertheless, this looks to be a nifty series, something (needless to say) that's a little bit different.

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