Batman & Houdini: The Devil's Workshop

Encounters at the used-book store

blog review

The Devil's Workshop is a self-contained graphic novel about a steampunk Batman in Victorian-era London, fighting alongside Harry Houdini against an unknown foe. It is stylish, gripping, maniacal, and highly enjoyable.

Frankly, this work is so effective that it almost makes you wonder whether Batman shouldn't have set in London and paired with Houdini in the first place. He fits right into this setting, and Houdini, whose "super-powers" are self-evident and innate, is wholly deserving of a part-time gig as a superhero.

I can't say much about the story without venturing into spoilers, but there are daring escapes, clever tricks, and ingenious (and surely impossible?) inventions throughout. And London is, as it turns out, possibly a better stand-in for Gotham than Gotham is for New York.

It also strikes me that this could be a good entry point into Batman for people who want to read some Batman but have no idea where to start (which, I feel, is a common problem with comics). As long as you're familiar enough with Batman to know the basic premise of his story (and who isn't?), this is a nice variation on the theme. It being self-contained means that there is no commitment to a multi-volume story arc, but you get a good taste of Batman comics, and you're investing in a really good graphic novel.

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