cover image RUSE: Enter the Detective

RUSE: Enter the Detective

Mark Waid, . . CrossGen Comics, $15.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-931484-19-0

Nominated for five Eisner Awards, this addition to CrossGen's burgeoning line is a typically slick and high-concept package—Sherlock Holmes meets the X-Files—but great fun, too. The Holmes character is Simon Archard, more studly than Conan Doyle's original, but equally brilliant and arrogant. In place of Dr. Watson, we have Emma Bishop, a pert, sarcastic blonde. Since Emma narrates their adventures, she has ample opportunities for wry commentary on Simon and the off-kilter Victorian England they inhabit (e.g., instead of riding in pursuit of foxes, rich people go on gargoyle hunts). Simon is several steps ahead of everyone else as he solves ever more bizarre crimes; Emma, meanwhile, humanizes him by deflating his misanthropy. This volume collects the first five issues of the magazine, most of which is taken up by Simon and Emma's struggle against the enigmatic Miranda Cross, who is out to seize control of the city by dosing public officials with a mind-control drug. Though Simon and Emma solve mysteries in a series of self-contained episodes, most major plot threads are left dangling, to be woven into future installments. Emma, for instance, has superhuman powers that she carefully conceals, as does Miranda, although the latter behaves much more flamboyantly. The full-color art—pencils by Butch Guice, inking by Mike Perkins, color by Laura DePuy—is high-end representational illustration that's both technically polished and lovingly researched. But the real star here is Waid's droll but exciting scripts; he's certainly earned his Eisner nomination as Best Writer. (Sept.)