As may have become apparent from previously published posts, I am somewhat of a comic book fan. Regardless of genre, comics have always fascinated me as a medium that had the potential to seamlessly mesh both prose and art into one storytelling whole. One of my favorite writers in the comic book genre is Mark Waid. Probably best known for his super hero narratives (see Kingdom Come, among others), he has also written several other less well known stories, and it is one of these that I would like to share today.
Introduction and Characters
“Ruse” follows the detective Simon Archard and his assistant Emma Bishop as they seek to battle crime in a Victorian-England-esque city. Anyone who is a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” series will probably find this short comic series appealing. Simon Archard is a detective who uses his above average brain to solve crimes, and he has some of the same cold, analytical, character traits that can be found in the character of Sherlock Holmes. Emma Bishop, however, is not John Watson. While still being the supportive character, and Archard’s only friend (much like Watson and Sherlock), she is more than meets the eye and plays a bigger role than simply recording the events of their adventures.
Story and Content
“Ruse” is largely episodic, following the two main characters as they solve various crimes, but does contain an overarching plotline that can be traced throughout. For those looking for a straight “realistic” or “Sherlock Holmes” mystery, “Ruse” is not the way to go. This is largely due to the fact that magic is present in this world that Waid has created. While Archard denies the supernatural and seeks for naturalistic explanations (reminiscent of Sherlock), Waid paints a picture that acknowledges powers beyond the comprehension of the analytical scientific mind. Whether Waid did this to make a point about the real world, or simply because the naturalist/supernatural tension made the story more interesting (more likely), he does an excellent job of balancing the two and creating a very interesting story. Finally, the series has never been finished, so it has never been satisfactorily closed with all of the plot-lines nicely tied up. I know that this might turn some people off, but what little there is in this short-lived series is definitely worth reading.
The artwork in “Ruse” is largely of a very high quality. The inkwork and coloring are all topnotch, giving the characters and world a very vibrant and ‘real’ feel. The panels are laid out in an orderly manner for the most part, although I did get confused momentarily on some multi-page spreads. However, all in all, the artwork does a great job of accompanying and enhancing the prose of Waid.
“Ruse” is another hit by Mark Waid, who masterfully creates a world that engulfs the imagination: complete with interesting characters and masterful artwork, as well as an interesting plot, “Ruse” is a gripping read from beginning to end. While tragically short lived, this series is a little known gem that leaves the reader wanting more.