Graphic Novel: Ruse: The Victorian Guide to Murder by Mark Waid
Published October 5, 2011 by Marvel
Summary (from Good Reads): Renowned as the Victorian world’s greatest detective, Simon Archard is the most intelligent of men. But when he crosses paths with the mysterious and enchanting Emma Bishop, has the smartest man in the world met his equal? Brought to readers by superstar writer Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man) and red-hot artist Mirco Pierfederici (Tron: Original Movie Adaptation), this is the new comic series that’ll leave you breathless.
Characters: I love Emma Bishop, like I did in the original. I do find it funny that she is constantly underestimated, although I would have liked it if she would have been able to show her badassery or brains more than she did. Simon is, as in the original, a jerk and while I occasionally liked him, the WTF moment sealed the deal for me and I am officially not a fan. The other characters we meet are fun and I felt that I learned just enough about each for the story to be told well.
Plot/Pacing: The Victorian Guide to Murder loses the confusing supernatural elements of the original and gives us a straightforward mystery that is easy to follow. There aren’t too many story lines or villains for me to juggle and the story unfolded quick enough for me to never be bored, but slow enough that I was never overwhelmed.
Moments I Loved: Revealing the answers to the mystery at the end is a lot of fun. I was on the fence between two and three lipstick kisses, but the end is satisfying and pushed the rating up.
WTF Moments: Simon enters Emma into a bare knuckle fight to cause a distraction in order for him to snoop. Seriously, dude? You’re a jackass. Up until this point, it was barely charming when he got Emma in trouble. He had done it unintentionally, he was distracted by his need to solve the mystery, and she was never in any real danger. But putting her in that fight crossed a line for me, both in the way Simon’s character treated her and because it felt like something the writer/artist did as an excuse to undress the Victorian lady.
Artwork: The original Ruse graphic novels had their issues, but I am just now starting to appreciate how wonderful the artwork is. This Marvel reboot has clearer storytelling and a more defined world, but none of the detailed artwork that I loved in the first volumes. Emma and Simon have completely inconsistent looks and Emma is treated the way all women in comic books seem to be treated. Lots of unnecessary cleavage shots. Lots of up-skirt views (for Victorian era clothing… seriously you justified that many?). And several girl fights. The cover photo for part four is Emma standing next to an impeccably dressed Simon, but her hair is a mess and her clothes are ripped. Seriously? It has absolutely nothing at all to do with the story, they just needed to objectify her, because you can’t have a woman who is both smart and respectable. Ridiculous.
Overall: The Ruse reboot has a great title (The Victorian Guide To Murder!) and a great tag line (He’s the world’s greatest detective. She’s even better.) and while the story line is much clearer than in the original two volumes, Simon is impossible to like and the art is disappointing.