‘Batman/Houdini: The Devil’s Workshop‘ is a 1993 DC Comics Elseworld graphic novel written by Howard Chaykin and John Francis Moore. It featured artwork from Mark Chiarello.
Harry Houdini arrives in Gotham City in 1907, preparing to do a show while also mingling with the city’s elite, including Bruce Wayne. Victoria Vale is working for the Gotham Globa and receives teasing from Baron Elijah Montenegro. As the nights go on, Houdini hears rumors that children are being taken from the “Devil’s Workshop” impoverished part of the town by a smiling stranger. He also learns that a mysterious vigilante called the Batman is working to solve the case.
The artwork was a bit thick. Let me explain. They were clearly going for a vintage picture book and old-school pulp-style so it would feel like a part of the time. While I commend the effort, it made for some confusion at times as, outside of Batman, many of the characters looked too similar, especially with the dark interior. If it had been brightened just a bit, I think it would have worked.
As stories go, the comic book is not bad. It takes a grim tale and combines it with a sort of gothic theme. I did think the “Joker” stand-in was a bit weak, but I liked the interactions between Batman and Houdini. I will admit, I am not familiar with the personality of the master escape artist, so I can say for certain if they captured his character, but I thought he was a good addition to Gotham City. It was well-rounded and I thought delivered on the action. With some tweaking, they could have connected it to “Gotham by Gaslight.”
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