24th Apr2018

‘Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini #4’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Cynthia Von Buhler | Art by Cynthia Von Buhler | Published by Titan Comics


I’m still trying to work out where I stand on this series. I better hurry up I guess as this is the final issue. In general the story and art have been pretty good, with a skillful weaving of fiction into fact, of fictional characters interacting with real historical ones. As time has progressed as well it seems more and more this a book about Minky Woodcock herself, rather than Houdini. rather than the historical whodunnit I first took this to be, it is seemingly more importantly the first case of Minky, private investigator.

This hits home even more with the very first page of this last issue, when newspaper headlines scream that Harry is dead. It was the spiritualists of course, wanting Houdini, with his rational fact based ways, out of the way. Minky discovered the assassin sent to kill Harry while impersonating a nude medium, and that Harrys nurse was also a wrong ‘un. If you think the machinations around Harry have lessened any now that’s he’s dead, think again. Pressure is put on his widow not to have an autopsy, and Minky finds herself setup with arsenic planted in her room. Minky manages to escape the police, just.

Finding Harry’s widow Bess, Minky insists she knows he was poisoned and that an autopsy is needed. Bess isn’t listening though, scared of losing the insurance payout. Minky is again targeted in a sort of honey trap, with extra drugs and booze, and left to drown in a bath. Again, she escapes this, waking in time. Minky rushes to the theatre where she is ambushed, (this is either becoming a bit of a habit, or poor writing. You choose) and strung up and lowered into Houdini’s water trap. Unknown to her kidnappers of course, Houdini taught Minky how to escape it, which she of course does. Consider the tables officially turned.

So, all resolved. Well, except the few little bits to mop up. Bess accepts her husband was poisoned by the spiritualists but decides to let sleeping dogs lie. Minky, having cracked her first ever case as a private investigator, has a win that feels like a loss. Very Raymond Chandler. My earlier suspicions are confirmed by the end, when it certainly appears we’ll be seeing no more of Harry Houdini, but a lot more of Minky Woodcock.

Hmm. On balance, I would have to say this series was one of diminishing returns. The premise was great, and the first issue very strong. Every issue since though has dipped a little, and the pacing and development of the story have jarred somewhat. I didn’t find this issue’s tie up very good, all very rushed and the storytelling a little lazy. The broad strokes were good, the detail not so much. Also although the mature themes were valid in showing us just what a liberated girl Minky was, at times the nudity and sexual scenes seemed a little gratuitous and titillating.

This was certainly an interesting project by Cynthia von Buhler, and I do like a quirky book, so let’s call it overall a flawed gem, where the ideas proved stronger than the end product. Would I like to see more of Minky? Well, I’ve seen quite a bit of her already, but in the context of future stories, sure why not? She seems a cool character.

Would I recommend this? For mature readers, yes. Just.

*** 3/5


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